PRAYER OF CONSECRATION
Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.
Jesus, I belong to you.
I lift up my heart to you.
I set my mind on you.
I fix my eyes on you.
I offer my body to you as a living sacrifice.
Jesus, we belong to you.
Praying in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, amen.
Acts 6:1–4 (NIV)
In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenistic Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.”
Problems, problems. When you think about it, the New Testament, in its essence, is a problem-solving document.
Yesterday’s problem: The Sanhedrin death penalty trial. Today, it’s the widows. Tomorrow it will be an execution and the day after it will be a vigilante named Paul. Soon the apostles will be faced with the massive problem of what to do with the Gentiles. Then will come the problems of the church in Rome and the church in Ephesus and the church in Corinth and the church in Thessalonica and the church in Phillipi and if we track this long enough we will come to the problems in your church and in my church and yes it will land in your house and my house and ultimately it comes back to your life and my life, where the problems begin in the first place.
Problems abound. They always have and they always will. Part of the problem is the way short-sighted solutions create more problems.
Notice how they didn’t solve the problem. They did not immediately and reflexively jump into fix-it mode. They could have probably fixed it pretty easily. They could have devised a solution and then delegated it to someone else to carry out. This is the all-too-common leader with a hundred helpers model. It gets things done while keeping control.
Notice how they solve the problem. They go with a share-leadership-and-empower-giftedness model.
1. Find people who “are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom.”
2. Lay hands on them, publicly commissioning them for the work.
3. Turn them loose.
But there’s a deeper thing we need to notice going on here today. Why didn’t the apostles just fix the problem? They surely weren’t lazy, nor did they consider the problem somehow beneath them. It’s the matter of calling and purpose. The apostles were clear about their calling and purpose. Watch how they responded:
It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables.
They knew there were things they were called and equipped to do that others were not called and equipped to do. They knew if they neglected these responsibilities the church would suffer. Further, if they did the things others were called and equipped to do they would give less than their best to the work they were called and equipped to do, and the whole thing would morph into mediocrity.
Notice how they didn’t lower the stature of the responsibility in need of leadership. They are not saying that the ministry of the word is more important than waiting on tables. They are different and require different gifts and sensibilities. The job requirements look pretty high to me: People who were known to be full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom. In the body of Christ, no one role or responsibility is greater than another one. It all rises and falls together. Every role counts and every gift is needed or it will not work at all.
I think it comes down to the difference between a controlling leader and a faithful steward. Or maybe it is a need to be needed vs. a desire to humbly serve?
THE PRAYER OF TRANSFORMATION
Lord Jesus, I am your witness.
I receive your righteousness and release my sinfulness.
I receive your wholeness and release my brokenness.
I receive your fullness and release my emptiness.
I receive your peace and release my anxiety.
I receive your joy and release my despair.
I receive your healing and release my sickness.
I receive your love and release my selfishness.
I receive your calling and equipping. I release my need to control and manage everything and everyone.
Come Holy Spirit transform my heart, mind, soul, and strength so that my consecration becomes your demonstration; that our lives become your sanctuary. For the glory of God our Father, amen.
What are you doing that you are called and equipped to do? What are you trying to do that someone else is called and equipped to do but can’t do because you won’t let it go? Why does this situation persist? Journal a bit on this question: Do you tend toward assertion, control, and over-functioning or apathy, withdrawing, and under-functioning? Why do you think that is? What might transformation look like?
Today we will sing the Charles Wesley hymn, “Father, in Whom We Live.” It is hymn 25 in our Seedbed hymnal, Our Great Redeemer’s Praise.
For the Awakening,
J. D. Walt