It is vital to understand that those who prayed and taught the Scriptures (the apostles) were no more important or spiritual than those who were to “serve tables” (Acts 6:2). The qualifications for those who would assist the apostles through service were: “men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom” (v.3). They even had hands laid upon them in prayer before they began their service (v.6) – in the same way as those who were going out to teach had hands laid on them (Acts 13:3).
Two things come to our attention:
- These seven mature men did not think it was “beneath them” to serve tables. They recognized that ministry to others always involves serving
- The apostles appointed people to help when it became clear that the apostles could no longer keep up with all of their growing responsibilities.
c. Partnership Multiplies Ministry
The result of dividing the work among other appointed leaders was: “Then the word of God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly…” (v.7).
Prior to this Spirit-led move of multiplying leaders, the word of God was spreading – but not as quickly as it could have. Once the primary leaders devoted themselves to prayer, teaching and leading, many more people were reached and saved. As other leaders helped serve the people, many more needs were being met.
Both areas of ministry needed proper attention: the teaching of the Word and the practical caring for people’s needs (Mark 16:15; Jas 1:27). Neither area was more or less important than the other. When either area was neglected, the ministry was hindered.
d. Multiplied Fruitfulness
The counsel of God to Moses, given through Jethro, was not given so that Moses would have less work to do. It was to help Moses work more wisely – to have right priorities about his time and ministry efforts. Moses needed to give proper attention to hearing from God and communicating God’s Word to His people, just as did the apostles. (We will study this later in this article.)
Sharing the leadership responsibilities also produces other benefits:
- It allows many other people to use and develop their gifts while giving them an opportunity to serve.
- More people will learn about leadership and be better prepared for additional ministry roles by practically serving others.
- People tend to take more responsibility for the ministry outreach – and support it – if they are personally involved.
- Those who are younger, or less mature spiritually, will have a goal to grow up into.
- Multiplying leadership allows God to multiply fruitfulness, such as: souls saved; the Church grown and matured; new churches planted; good works as a witness to society; a testimony to the glory of God and the validity of salvation through Jesus Christ and His power to transform human lives.
LIFE BEGETS LIFE
The pattern for effective leadership throughout the Scriptures is to “spiritually reproduce” more leadership! Leaders must pass on to others what God has taught them. Among their other responsibilities, leaders must always invest time, prayer, gifts and resources into raising up another generation of faithful leaders.