Choosing is a fact of life. We make choices every day almost unconsciously. Whether to go right or left at the light; or to be early, on time or fashionably late for an appointment; to have cold cereal or hot oatmeal for breakfast.
Some choices are hard. Other decisions are easy. Caught in between two difficult choices we often find ourselves wrestling with indecision; so, we elect to procrastinate until we must decide.
There is no free pass that rids us of the task of choosing except one: death. Every living being must make choices. It is inevitable and necessary.
FORCED CHOOSING – Acts 6:1-7
The explosively expanding church of Jerusalem had begun with the 11 apostles (Acts 1:12-14). Within days the number of new Christians grew to 120 (Acts 1:15) to 3,000 (Acts 2:41) and then to at least 5,000 men (Acts 4:4 – plus women and children!). Many of those new members were foreigners (Acts 2:5-12) who had stayed over to hear the eyewitness accounts of Jesus and to connect the dots between the Old Testament prophecies and the Passover’s events of only a couple of months before.
Taking care of all of these born-again foreigners as well as the Christian residents of Jerusalem must have been a huge task! Food was being delivered to needy families on a daily basis (Acts 6:2) so it should be no surprise that someone would be overlooked. Whether or not it was intentional, someone had to make a choice about how to correct the matter of feeding the foreign widows of their number.
Stated simply, when the apostles were informed that the Grecian widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food they began making choices to navigate this unique situation. There were many ways they could have responded, among which might have included:
- Taking care of it themselves;
- Ignoring the problem;
- Pushing it off on someone else to figure out how to fix the problem; or
- Blaming someone else for the problem.
What would the apostles do? They began making choices based upon what Jesus had taught them about leadership in Luke 22:24-26.
24 A dispute also arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest. 25 Jesus said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. 26 But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves.Luke 22:24-26
Here is what they did (Acts 6:1-7):
- The Grecian Jews chose to bring their situation to the attention of the apostles.
- The apostles chose to take their concern seriously.
- The apostles chose to clarify their role.
- The apostles chose to specify the qualifications of those who would take care of this immediate challenge.
- The apostles chose to let the congregation choose the men who would serve this need.
- The congregation responded and chose (somehow) the men and presented them to the apostles.
- The apostles chose to pray over the congregation’s selection and to commission them to get to work by laying on hands of blessing upon the seven men.
LEADERSHIP MODEL OF CHOOSING
Gravitating to the leadership options of doing the job ourselves, ignoring problems, pushing them off or blaming is easy to do. Alternatively, the apostles chose to empower the congregation to take care of the challenge of the Grecian widows themselves.
First, it allowed the apostles to stay focused upon the important things instead of the urgent problem. Second, it gave the congregation a sense of ownership and participation. Third. it recognized leaders in the congregation for future leadership opportunities. Finally, it made it clear that “serving tables” (Acts 6:2) and “ministry of the word” (Acts 6:4 – same Greek root word used later to describe deacons) was not a hierarchical chain of command but, rather, fellow servants with differing calls to service.
The principles that governed the apostles’ ability to chose to apply should also inspire leaders in churches today:
1.Trust God’s People
2.Empower God’s People
3.Keep Focus On Responsibilities
4.Clarify The Responsibilities of the Congregation
5.Bless The Congregation’s Decision