Principals of Delegation
I have learned one thing from Walmart if you want to move up in the company. It is not a hard thing to do and it really just involves two things. Be sure you complete your task and know how to delegate. Delegating responsibilities is very important when there are a lot of things to get done. The problem with Walmart is it is not really delegation as much as it is handing out tasks. There is a difference.
Here is the definition of delegate from Webster's Dictionary:
to appoint as one’s representative: to assign responsibility or authority
Inc Merriam-Webster, Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. (Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, Inc., 2003).
See this is the thing about a delegate, a delegate is not someone who you just pass a task on to, a delegate is someone who would trust as a representative to do something in your place. This doesn't mean the task or the duty is menial or you are to good for it, it means the task is important and it needs to be done. Now some tasks can only be done by specific people and some can not. So a delegate is someone who will take your place in one position that they can handle or do, it is as if they are doing your job they are you doing the job while you go and do a job that they are not trained to do or even don't have the authority to do. But once you leave them in the position of doing a task they are in the position of authority.
I remember when I was a supervisor in Walmart in California. An issue would arise where it was above my head to handle, so I would call the manager and explain the situation to the manager. The manager would then tell me, handle it. In that very instance they have charged me with the responsibility to in that moment in that present situation to acts as the manager. My decision at that very moment was law. What I said to the customer or how I handled it was as though they were talking to the manager. That is the picture of delegation.
The church has many different elements to it and there are many people within the church and the are different responsibilities that need to be met and no one person can meet them. This is not a lone wolf operation. Cornerstone is a small church but even in the small church there are so many things that go on that they pastor, myself, can do everything. This doesn't mean that there are menial tasks that I should be doing as though I am better then that. It just means that there are tasks that I must devote my time to that shouldn't be hindered because I had to handle something someone else could handle. For this reason there are people with in the church that are very capable and act as delegates so that I can be relieved from having to do those task and be able to focus on needs that I have to focus on and I have been trained in handling.
Now with that said there are those who are chosen as leaders of the church, it doesn't make them better then anyone else it just means they are there as delegates to help bring relief so the word of God is always at the forefront and never neglected. If the spiritual needs of the people are neglected for the physical needs of the people then the devil has more of a foot hold on the church so the spiritual needs must be primary for the church. This morning as we continue our study of the book of Acts we will take a look at what it means to be a delegate in the church of God. We will look this morning at Three Principles of Delegation which are Relief, Requirements and Ratification.
Three Principles of Delegation are Requirements, Relief and Ratification
Three Principles of Delegation are Requirements, Relief and Ratification
Let's go ahead and turn to Acts 6:1-7,
Now at this time while the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint arose on the part of the Hellenistic Jews against the native Hebrews, because their widows were being overlooked in the daily serving of food. So the twelve summoned the congregation of the disciples and said, “It is not desirable for us to neglect the word of God in order to serve tables. “Therefore, brethren, select from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task. “But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” The statement found approval with the whole congregation; and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch. And these they brought before the apostles; and after praying, they laid their hands on them. The word of God kept on spreading; and the number of the disciples continued to increase greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were becoming obedient to the faith.
Here is the proposition or the problem that arises. First of all Luke makes it clear the church is growing. Even in the midst of persecution, even with the threats on their lives, even after being punished for standing firm in the gospel and defending the gospel the apostles don't back down, they don't shrink away from proclaiming the gospel message of Jesus as the judge of the living and the dead. "Disciples were increasing in number" very clear people were becoming Christ followers. Until now the apostles have stood out as the leaders of the church and they are the ones who have been caring for the people. The problem is now the church is growing and with the growth of the church we find there is a complaint. A specific group of the church, Hellenistic Jews, who are Jewish people who are Jews by birth but who have acclimated to the Greek culture. These are more then likely those who were natives of other cities who we found in Acts 2 who have come to Jerusalem for the purpose of the feasts and while there, they trusted in Jesus as Savior and now are Christ followers.
The problem that arises seems to be one of class struggle. The Hellenistic Jews believed the native born Jews were neglecting their widows in the daily serving of food. What is happening is the church is growing and the apostles can't handle everything that comes down the pike. This is the first time an issue arises within the church where there is a disagreement and it will force a prayerful delegation of responsibility.
The complaint obviously went to the apostles not just rumored around the church. With the complaint being brought before the apostles they realized right away something needed to be done. They didn't take it upon themselves to fix the problem because they had much more pressing matters to attend to. What I mean by that is they didn't neglect what they were doing and go and serve tables but they did suggest a fix.
They are the leaders of this glorious movement and they know that they only thing that changes hearts and minds is the Word of God. The Word of God takes time to study, read and proclaim. This is their service to the people, no one has ever been saved by having a meal served to them and not to mention these people who are being neglected are by all accounts in this text, saved. The apostles are not saying it is a waste of their time to serve tables. They are not being selfish or arrogant, they are simply making it clear the primary obligation is to the word of God. This is what Jesus has commissioned them for and trained them for, to teach the word of God to the people, they are to point people to God through Jesus Christ. This doesn't mean the job of serving tables is beneath them, but with the church the size that it is if they only focused on the physical labor then they would neglect the spiritual disciplines that are growing the church. Arrogance would have caused them to look down on that situation and more then likely just leave it to them. Instead they had godly wisdom, I would say because they haven't neglected the word of God. They are about to make a wise suggestion.
This brings us to our first principle, The Requirements of a Delegate.
We will see this in verse 3, "Therefore, brethren, select from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task." This is the wise suggestion they come up with. They suggest the brethren select between themselves seven men, who knows why they chose the number seven I would venture to guess the spirit moved them to select that number and there is no reason to digger deep into the number seven.The point isn't the number of men but the qualifications of these men. There are four simple qualifiers. The first is one I would like to point out and would actually escape your notice and it probably has. The apostles tell them to pick men. These men are to have a leadership role in the area of administration. I understand what you're thinking what chauvinism, they are sexists. Why would they pick men aren't women just as good as men. This is not an issue of inequality this is an issue of authority. When it comes to the church and the leadership of the church there are issues of authority that come into play. This means when it comes to handling certain issues in the church even the issue of serving tables as it is here the men are selected as the leaders and the administrators of the task at hand. They more then likely did it themselves and selected other men to help them.
This is the order God has designed it and the men are to be the leaders in the church and in the home. Now these men are not seen as anything more then just delegates. These men are not deacons as some think they are. In two of the men on this list do a whole lot more then just administer food and physical needs to the people, they preach and evangelize. This is a specific task they are called to do and it is a task of administration. Men are very important in this task within the church and I know many of the men's wives are very gifted at it as well. The thing is men are very important in leadership of the church. This is also very important for us to understand and we need to look at this through the lens of the Scripture because in today's society the role of men in leadership is deteriorating. Watch just about any sitcom, actually don't because it is pretty much just worldly trash. Sitcoms used to be about family values, father knows best and the father also had words of wisdom, he would mess up from time to time but for the most part he was extremely respected and seen as the head of the house. Now all television does is denigrate men, belittle their inelegance and make them look like fools. I know what your thinking oh its just a tv show. Not when the views of the world shape the minds of the people in the church. This happens. The church is ignoring the call of male leadership in the church and elevating the roles of authority to women. Now I am not denigrating women, don't even go there, women are gifted in many different areas and women can do a lot. I mean seriously Lynn is the administrator of the church and she runs the kids programs because she is very gifted in those areas as well as she selects the songs for the worship so its not like I am saying women are not gifted and have no place in teaching and leading. When it comes to the overall business of the church it is men who are called to be the ones who lead. Woman are our compliments but they are not the ones who are to be in charge of the business, it is men.
Therefore I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension. Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments, but rather by means of good works, as is proper for women making a claim to godliness. A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve.
Second, these men are to be of good reputation. This means they are to be viewed by the people as having godly character. Their conduct within the church and even outside the church must be one that brings honor to God and to His church. It is the idea that no one has a word against the person. Their actions are godly, their words are godly, and their motives are godly. Now I know when it comes to motives, how can I measure a persons motives, I can't see into the heart of the person. Well it is very clear in Scripture that good trees produce good fruit and bad trees produce bad fruit. So to know a persons motives is simple, spend time with a person and watch how they react and act and when they pop up and what they say. Talk to their friends and their coworkers and you will find out what a persons motives are. These people spent so much time together the scripture tells us they were of one mind, they had the same focus and the same goals and they spent a lot of time together. They would eat together, minister together and they would walk together and pray together. So they would know who had a good reputation.
1 Timothy spells this out for us in the qualifications for an elder,
It is a trustworthy statement: if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do. An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not addicted to wine or pugnacious, but gentle, peaceable, free from the love of money. He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?), and not a new convert, so that he will not become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil. And he must have a good reputation with those outside the church, so that he will not fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. Deacons likewise must be men of dignity, not double-tongued, or addicted to much wine or fond of sordid gain, but holding to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. These men must also first be tested; then let them serve as deacons if they are beyond reproach. Women must likewise be dignified, not malicious gossips, but temperate, faithful in all things. Deacons must be husbands of only one wife, and good managers of their children and their own households. For those who have served well as deacons obtain for themselves a high standing and great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.
Character is very important.
The third is "full of the Spirit." Now yes they are all saved and they all have the Spirit. This is an enabling of the Spirit's power with in their lives. Being filled with the Spirit means they are yielding their own power over to the power of the Spirit. Again it is an obvious manifestation of the Holy Spirit working in and through them. Selflessness and humility being an example of being filled with the Spirit because man is naturally selfish and proud. Being filled with the Spirit is very obvious especially in a culture where people believed you had to look righteous in order to be righteous and being filled with the Spirit would be expressed in a person knowing he isn't righteous but is viewed as righteous through the blood of Christ.
The fourth qualifier is, 'wisdom.' Now notice they don't say knowledge they say wisdom, the idea here is being able to discern the things of God. They are obviously always filtering everything through what they believe God would want to have done and the way God would want something done. They don't handle a situation with human rational but they handle it with the Word of God themselves. This is a divine wisdom, it doesn't come from themselves it is imparted to them by God through the work and power of the Holy Spirit. These are the qualifiers for a man who is to be put in charge, given the responsibility of taking on the task of serving God by serving God's people. Making sure God's people are not neglected in physical means. These men will distribute the food and the money. Remember money is brought to the apostles and laid at their feet for the purpose of caring for the poor so there would be no one in need. At this point these men would be taking that over.
The major purpose of this is so the apostles could devote themselves to the spiritual arena. So here the apostle's lay out the requirements for a delegate, next we will look at the purpose which is to be relief.
Christianity was new, it was a new movement and their was a lot for the apostles to learn still. There are only a few apostles who have actually had divine revelation and those men have written down the revelation God has imparted to them. Still there was a need to spend time in the scriptures they had and study so they can understand God's word and be able to teach it and preach it and defend it. There are going to be some controversies that will arise especially when the church spreads to the gentiles. So these men have to spend time praying for the lost, praying for the found, and serving God through the study and teaching of His Word. When the leadership of the church losses focus on the study of the Word of God and on prayer the church begins to move away from following after Jesus and following after man. The apostles know this and they want to stay dedicated to this. This doesn't mean they are secluding themselves away from the people in some ivory tower and not associated with the people at all because they must not be interrupted by the trivial physical needs of the people. That is not it at all. They just know that if they are to care for this massive group of people in this church on only a physical level it will hinder everyone's spiritual life. So they wisely delegate the responsibility.
Delegation of responsibility is not giving someone a job you don't want to do. Delegating responsibility is providing someone the task of doing an important job so you can focus on another job they are not trained for. Jesus called the twelve to the task of being His witnesses, and this is not an easy task. Their eyewitness accounts of Jesus' work and ministry have now caused such an increase in the size of the church that they can't handle those physical needs and if they are to handle the physical needs of the people then what will happen is they won't have time to develop their own spiritual walk and this will hinder the growth and stability of the church.
The delegates are there to help relieve them of the burden of having to go and serve tables, so they can go and serve the word. In verse 4 it reads, "but we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word." Ministry can also be translated serve or serving, they are serving people the Word of God. This is so important and it can not be neglected by the church and its leadership in any way shape or form. Now this doesn't mean the preach should never be distracted from the task of study, but the study of the Word of God is so important to the vitality of the church that the pastor of the church can not neglect it in anyway.
I have told you that you need to put into practice the study of God's word into your own lives how much more is that for the preacher. The charge I read to you last week from Paul to Timothy is a charge to pastors and it you can still apply it to yourselves but here is the thing with that charge, I take it very seriously and as it is the Word of God and Paul even says in verse 1, I solemnly charge you in the presence of God an Christ Jesus, this is a charge from God to me. I must obey this. I must be ready to preach the Word in season or out. I have to reprove, rebuke and exhort you guys. How can I do that if I am not studying the word? How can I know who God is if I am spending all my time playing video games or watching tv or if I have to care for every physical need in the church. Our church is small, I can help wit some things now but I know a day will come when I will have to defer to someone else. We need to be ready for that and that is important because my priority is your spiritual wellbeing.
I am a life long learner in the Word of God. I have told Lynn that when the kids are grown I would like to pursue a doctorate, because I do enjoy being in the word and growing in my personal walk with the Lord. Study of His Word is so crucial and it can not be hindered. So delegates are here to help alleviate my time in doing things that will take me away from the study of His Word. Now I think everyone here knows I work at Walmart, I spend three day a week at Walmart not because I want to but because it is my job. It is a big trend actually in today's society of being a bivocational pastor. This is not the norm and nor is it Biblical. It is a necessity and I understood when we started Cornerstone that I would continue at Walmart. Still it is not biblical. A few months ago I looked up articles about being bivocational because I am interested in writing a book on the topic. The articles I read, all pointed to how this is the future of pastoral ministry and how some mega church are doing this now, having their pastors work as bivocational pastors. I am sorry but that is not a biblical function. In fact when Paul had to mend tents because the church wasn't paying him it hindered the ministry of the gospel. This is not the ideal and this is not the future of ministry and if this is the future of the church then I will say this, this future leads only to a spiritually anemic church and that has already happened here in America which means it will get worse.
I want you to look at what Paul said to the Corinthians about caring for the pastor. 1 Corinthians 9:8-14
I am not speaking these things according to human judgment, am I? Or does not the Law also say these things? For it is written in the Law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing.” God is not concerned about oxen, is He? Or is He speaking altogether for our sake? Yes, for our sake it was written, because the plowman ought to plow in hope, and the thresher to thresh in hope of sharing the crops. If we sowed spiritual things in you, is it too much if we reap material things from you? If others share the right over you, do we not more? Nevertheless, we did not use this right, but we endure all things so that we will cause no hindrance to the gospel of Christ. Do you not know that those who perform sacred services eat the food of the temple, and those who attend regularly to the altar have their share from the altar? So also the Lord directed those who proclaim the gospel to get their living from the gospel.
Paul reinforces this in 1 Timothy 5:17-18
The elders who rule well are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing,” and “The laborer is worthy of his wages.”
Have written Philippians 4:15-18
That is why the church must support the minister of the gospel and that goes for the missionaries as well. The missionaries need to be cared for so their ministry is not hindered either. Those poor families that we support we don't see them and it becomes out of site out of mind but they need our support and if they are not getting it and they have to stop what they are doing to either go out and raise more support or even have to get a job to care for themselves and their families then the gospel message is hindered. They need to be supported so their is relief and in the church there is no small job, not one. Each job is important. The set up, the purchasing of the supplies, the breakdown, all of that is important. We were in the Lacey Christmas parade and I really had nothing to do with it. That is not a bad thing. And the float looked awesome and we had a great time and just about everyone in the church contributed to that. As the church grows and as things progress I need to step further back from doing many of those things so I can devote myself to prayer and the study of the Word of God.
So the first principle of delegation is the requirements, the second is the relief and third is the ratification.
In verse 5 and 6 we read, "the statement found approval with the whole congregation; and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch. 6 And these they brought before the apostles; and after praying, they laid their hands on them." The congregation agreed with what was said. They found approval in the statement and acted quickly in selecting the men. Only two of these men have any kind of description. The first one selected Stephen and the last one in the list Nicolas. Nicolas has the simple designation 'a proselyte' which means he is not born a Jew, he is a convert to Judaism. This means he adheres to the Jewish laws including the right of circumcision. He is legally a Jew even though not born a Jew which demonstrates that as they selected people they looked at their character. They kept to the qualifiers. The other one with a designation is Steven. You could say since he was the first martyr of the church they hold him in very high esteem so Luke is here giving a eulogistic description of Stephen. This very well may be. Seeing as how I view the Word of God as being written by the Holy Spirit through the hands of men like Luke I see this as God's description of this man. This is not just how Luke saw Stephen but this is the reputation the twelve meant in verse 3. It was clear to all that Stephen fulfilled the qualifiers of the task at hand. And as we continue through out chapter 6 and chapter 7, Stephen is very much the focal point and this description of him takes front and center, meaning there is no denying he was a man 'full of faith and of the Holy Spirit.'
Then in verse 6, we have the apostolic charge. There was the instruction along with the qualifiers on who to pick but it is the apostles who have the last word and the authoritative word as to whether these men are the ones for the task. The seven men were brought before the apostles. These men were presented to the apostles, more then likely this was a church service so the congregation of people were gathered together for this. This makes it a public declaration of the candidates that have been nominated for this task. This isn't a secrete and there is ample opportunity to speak up if these men do not fit the qualifiers laid out. Then there was prayer for these men, because you can not, I must stress this, can not present people for service to the Lord with out prayer. Jesus demonstrated this when He selected the apostles. The apostles demonstrated this in Acts 1 when they selected the twelfth apostle who would take Judas' place and here we have them do this once again. Never select anyone for a leadership position without ample prayer. Finally they laid hands on them which is just a symbolic way of transfer of responsibility. When I graduated from seminary the very last thing the seminary did was to bring everyone up to the front of the church and all of the professors and elders of Grace Community Church gathered around us and placed their hands on us as they prayed over us and the ministries God had already set for us to accomplish. Their is nothing supernatural in this it is only for the purpose of commissioning.
Listen to Paul instruction to Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:11-16
Prescribe and teach these things. Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe. Until I come, give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching. Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you, which was bestowed on you through prophetic utterance with the laying on of hands by the presbytery. Take pains with these things; be absorbed in them, so that your progress will be evident to all. Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you.
The delegates must be commissioned for service in the church. At Cornerstone it is a process of watching and spending time with people and the people are to be affirmed by the congregation. The leadership are the ones who select the leaders and the leadership are the ones who ratify the selection. It is important that the leadership fit the qualification and the congregation knows the qualifications so they can voice their concerns if they have any in respect to a potential leader and the leadership can confirm them and ratify the decision, through prayer and laying on of hands.
So we have the principal of requirements, the relief and the ratification, now let's look at the result.
In verse 7 we find, "The Word of God kept on spreading; and the number of the disciples continued to increase greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were becoming obedient to the faith." Now in the book end here Luke makes it clear the result of this delegation of responsibility was the spread of the word of God. This is due largely because the apostles are able to focus on the word of God and prayer. They can focus on the spiritual growth of the church, and spreading the gospel message. They are confident the physical needs of the people are also being taken care of by competent godly men who will care for the people physically and not defame the name of the Lord Jesus Christ or cause His church to be blemished by dishonest gain or seeking power or control but caring for the people because these seven men love God and so they love God's people.
The result of the word of God spreading of course is the growth of the church numerically. Not only is the church growing but even the priests of the Jewish faith are now excepting the truth of the gospel that Jesus is the Messiah. This is because of the apostles persistent proclamation of the gospel message in the temple where the priests serve and where the priests are each and every day. This is why it is important for the church not to be lead by just one man and why the church must have others leading alongside with the goal of taking care of the people. The responsibility of the deacons of the church is to take care of the needs of the people to serve in a capacity so that I can focus on making sure the spiritual needs of the church are met. My job is to bring you the truths of the scripture and that is my number one priority, what that means is to be very honest, I shouldn't be worrying about the coffee, the bagels, the set up, the breakdown the counting of the money. My responsibility is to your spiritual wellbeing and that means I need to be focused on the study of the Word of God, praying for each and everyone of you, and making sure I am walking in the path of God's commandments. Cornerstone is a small church so there is more that I need to do and I have to jump in quite often and I don't mind do that, but the deacons of the church are here to help alleviate the burdens on me so I can be God's word. It is better for me that I am and it is better for you too.