Share the Load
It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep. – Psalm 127:2 ESV
Today we’re going to consider the first 6 verses of Acts 6. We’ll talk more about Stephen tomorrow. We’ll be brief this morning.
This simple narrative has written into it contains a profound truth that it appears everyone in the early church affirmed, but I believe we have forgotten. At least, I tend to forget it. The truth is this: You can’t do everything. Also, your pastor can’t do everything. Read Acts 6:1-6 and take a look at what is going on:
Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution.  And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables.  Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty.  But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”  And what they said pleased the whole gathering, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch.  These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands on them.
Acts 6:1-6 (ESV)
At first, I read this, and I almost think the Apostles are either arrogant, or lazy. The truth of the matter is, they are humble and wise. They realized that they had a role to play, and they knew that they needed to stay focused on it. It’s not that they weren’t willing to serve tables, in fact, it appears they did the best job they could prior to Acts 6. The reality was, as the church grew, they just couldn’t do everything anymore.
I want us to take away three truths today:
1) You can’t do everything. We American’s are crazy. We stay so busy that there is no space for rest. It’s OK to say, “I’m really trying to do a great job at X right now; I don’t think I have time for Y.” We all have different priorities and capacities, but one thing is true: none of us can do everything.
2) Your pastor can’t do everything. Just remember that the Apostles themselves had to back away from some really good tasks for the sake of others. Pastors are called to lead the church, but sometimes that means empowering others to serve. I once read a survey that was done of church members asking how much time the pastor should spend doing various tasks each week. When the results were totaled up, pastors would be expected to work 125 hrs per week. There is a whole body of Christ. It is there to love and serve. The Pastor can’t do everything.
3) Prayer is work. Notice that they say, “We will devote ourselves to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.” I fear sometimes I stick prayer in the margins. As though it’s that thing you do between actually doing stuff. Prayer is real work. It goes on the schedule. There will be some things you can’t do because you are praying. And that’s OK! You can’t do everything.
Jesus promises that in the gospel, we find a easy yoke. He promises to give us rest. I have a lot to learn about this, but what I’m taking from Acts 6 this morning is: It’s OK to let someone else do really important things, because God has called me to other really important things. That’s true for each of us in some way. Some ARE called to serve tables, and that’s a beautiful, Jesus exalting thing to do. Some are called to other tasks. No one is called to do everything.
Grace & Peace.
Daily Reading: Today’s bible reading is Acts 6.