7 Insights on Appointing Leaders from Acts 6
We would all agree that growth is a good thing. Whether you own a business, manage a client base, or have a family, increase is something to be celebrated. The truth behind the law of increase is this: all living things grow. The early church, as depicted in Acts 1- Acts 6:1-7, is one amazing example of growth catalyzed by the Holy Spirit. It also provides timely lessons on managing growth through the actions of leaders appointing leaders.
How do 12 jobs become 7 jobs? This is the great dynamic of putting the right people in the right place in an organization. We find in Acts 6 that complaints were coming from the Hellenistic Jews because of food distribution neglect to the Hellenistic widows in the church. The apostles, receiving the complaint, realize that they must find others who can carry on the food allocations to these Jews who speak Greek. Just as in the early church, it becomes necessary to appoint people to fulfill God’s literal command of ‘feed my sheep’ while the disciples would be committed to the spiritual nourishment that the new flock of God needed. So, the disciples chose 7 men who were Greek speaking and place them in charge of the daily food distribution.
The question remains: How can you feed God’s sheep when you are feeding God’s sheep? What I mean by that is: how do you achieve both primary and secondary things necessary for success? You have to appoint leaders! From the text, I believe there are 7 key insights we can understand from this passage on when to appoint leaders:
- Appoint leaders when the demands of others draw you away from the demands of God (Acts 6:2). It is not arrogant to know and decide what you must spend your time on in order to be effective. The disciples considered their roles as Apostles – leaders who had been with Jesus – as distinct to their ministry of the word. So, precedence over waiting on tables was the ministry of the word. And, effective ministry of the word takes time to prepare, study, preach and teach.
- Appoint leaders when there are leaders to appoint (Acts 6:3). This may seem like a self-evident observation, but more often than not, organizations put people into leadership positions who are not leaders. Just because a person has a pulse does not make them fit to lead others. Looking back at Acts, the church had over 3,120+ people with 12 core leaders (the Apostles). Obviously, there was potential, un-appointed leadership in the church at large. So, instead of selecting the leaders themselves, the Apostles turned to the people to validate the un-appointed leadership that was already proving itself through a vital and living ministry in their midst (‘Choose 7 men full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom…’).
- Appoint leaders when your prayer life and Bible study time is second and/or divided between the administrational aspects of ministry (Acts 6:4). For those in full time vocational ministry, the tension between administrative duties and spiritual disciplines is all too real. Priority must be given to the task of making disciples. Once you make this primary priority a secondary action, you will loose both first and second things.
- Appoint leaders when there is a language or culture barrier to witness or effectiveness (Acts 6:5). If you examine the names of the men chosen to wait tables you will find that they are all Greek names. This strongly indicates that they were bi-lingual in Greek and Hebrew, and possibly fluent in Latin as well. Therefore, the 7 new leaders take the place of the 12 prior leaders in the food distribution. By putting the right people in the right position, efficiency was enhanced by over 40% and their was no longer a language or cultural barrier for administrative and Gospel tasks.
- Appoint leaders when the people recognize that a change needs to take place (Acts 6:6). Complaints are a blessing to the one who listens. Because the Apostles listened to the complaints, change became inevitable. When complaints arise, there is a favorable time for change – especially new leader appointment. The people were ready for change and adapted to change by responding wholeheartedly by selecting the right men for the task and sending them to the Apostles for commissioning.
- Appoint leaders when you want to achieve your mission faster (Acts 6:7). The evidence of right leader selection is directly related to the pace of achieving your vision. Verse 6 states it this way, “So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly…”. Why did the word of God spread? Because the number fo disciples increased. The correlation between the Apostles devoting time to prayer and the word and the increase of disciples cannot be missed. If you want to achieve your mission with greater pace and intensity, then appoint leaders, thereby giving you the time to fulfill obedience to God’s design for your organization.
- Appoint Leaders when you want to spend your time influencing the influencers (Acts 6:7). At the end of verse 7 we find that a number of the priests were becoming obedient to the faith. The priests were influential in the lives of worshippers as they were performing customary temple duties. When you want to reach the influencers of society, you must delegate tasks to others so that you can spend time with those who will further the reach of the Gospel in a profound way when they come to know Christ.