What do we have to offer the next generation of leaders? How can we provide a supportive environment for service? Sometimes, a problem presents a possibility.
About that time, while the number of disciples continued to increase, a complaint arose. Acts 6:1a (CEB)
Something isn’t working properly. Feelings are hurt; folks are left out. The people doing the job don’t have the time or energy. The community needs new leaders who are capable, inspired, and invested.
This might describe our church, our non-profit, or our workplace. It doesn’t take long for any organization to encounter difficulty. Effective solutions need group buy-in, where everyone is responsible for their success.
The Twelve called a meeting of all the disciples and said, “It isn’t right for us to set aside proclamation of God’s word in order to serve tables. Brothers and sisters, carefully choose seven well-respected men from among you. They must be well-respected and endowed by the Spirit with exceptional wisdom. We will put them in charge of this concern. Acts 6:2-3 (CEB)
The original apostles couldn’t do it all. Or do it all well. They had to identify new leaders, delegate, and empower them to succeed. We can become focused on the problem- the need for people to fill positions. Whether it is musicians, administrators, teachers, sound technicians… do we see the opportunities for service and leadership, or just jobs that need to be done?
This proposal pleased the entire community. They selected Stephen, a man endowed by the Holy Spirit with exceptional faith, Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolaus from Antioch, a convert to Judaism. The community presented these seven to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them. Acts 6:5-6 (CEB)
How do we identify new leaders? This process provides one model. The Greek widows were getting shorted in the food distribution, so the community found Greek-speaking leaders to serve them. Sometimes we need to look outside our cultural network for people who speak the same language as the work. Then we need to empower new leaders, encourage and support them, with our prayers and with our hands.
At New Covenant, we have a lot to offer the next generation, providing opportunities to serve and to lead. Can we see ourselves in this role of identifying and empowering others? How might we cultivate the gifts of young musicians, the incoming leadership team, and those new to our community?
God’s word continued to grow. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased significantly. Even a large group of priests embraced the faith. Acts 6:7 (CEB)
When we attend to the needs of our community, God’s word grows among us. People of faith recognize good news. Embracing new leadership and embracing new members go hand in hand. May we recognize problems as opportunities, that the places where we lack are the very areas in which we can grow. May our prayers and our hands support new leaders in the work of the kingdom. -Renée