Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. – Acts 6:3 KJV
The disciples had worked very hard after the receiving of the Holy Spirit and according to the directives of Jesus Christ that they preach the gospel, make disciples of the whole world and baptising all who believe. Such was the effort they put in that the number of followers increased so much and administering them was becoming a huge challenge. Not only were they overwhelmed by the enormous challenge posed by the day-to-day administration of the people, their failure in this area was beginning to have negative impact on the people that they were leading. Human frailties had began to set in with accusations and counter-accusations of favouritism in the dispensing of basic amenities – Acts 6:1. Claims of neglect of specific group of people based on tribes was beginning to evolve and all these was definitely going to impact negatively on the unity of the group and, of course, without unity, the group will have limited chances of progressing. They had to quickly do something to prevent the breakdown of the structure of the group.
This imminent breakdown of law and order was not because the disciples decided to be complacent due to the success of their mission or that they decided to take the people for granted and so stop being responsible for their well being. It was mainly because they were becoming overwhelmed by the magnitude of what they had to cope with in addition to their primary duties of praying and preaching the gospel. Being honest with themselves about their limitations, the Twelve called the multitude of the disciples and related to them their solution to the challenge among the group. The people were to select seven representatives from among them who will be in charge of the day-to-day administration of the group whilst they concentrate on their primary assignment of preaching the gospel and praying – Acts 1:2, 4. These appointed representatives however must meet certain selection criteria as stated in Acts 1:3, and listed as follows:
- They must not just be honest but must be seen and acknowledged by the people to be so. Their assessment in this area was not going to be based on how they viewed themselves but how the people viewed them.
- They must be filled with the Holy Spirit. This pre-condition becomes necessary since they were to dispense their schedules based on the directives of the Almighty God and not their personal thoughts and the only way they could assure themselves of that was by operating in the Holy Spirit.
- They must be wise. This will be a direct consequence of their being possessed of the Holy Spirit as the will be expected to apply wisdom in dispensation of their duties.
So for the Twelve, it was not about amount of social influence an individual wielded but about the ability, mainly character and spiritual, to be able to lead the people.
One only wished these were the selection criteria used by modern day Christian leaders because then, there will definitely be less disaffection and tension amongst the brethren as witnessed today. Unfortunately what holds in modern day church administration for such selection is completely different. Modern day Church administrators and Christians in general have lots of takeaways from this event some of which are listed below;
- The Twelve acknowledged that their was a challenge that could imminently affect the unified structure of the group and chose to quickly address it. Leadership must always be with vision. A leadership that waits for a problem to evolve before addressing it or worse still does not see the problem at all will always put the people who they lead in crisis. Leading with vision and being proactive in solutions applied remain the key to a peaceful group.
- The Twelve acknowledged their limitations and did not concentrate all powers to themselves. A leader must not necessarily be super-human. There will still be limitations to what he/she can physically do. The bulk of the role of leadership is to be able to identify the strong points of each member of the group and encouraging them to apply same to the advantage of the group. This they will be able to do successfully though if they admit that they cannot be involved in all situations and are willing to cede roles and responsibilities to other members of the group. This they will also be able to do if they do not feel threatened by the growth and development of other members of the group and thus feel safe in their own position.
- The Twelve allowed the people to choose their representatives and avoided imposition. Attempts to impose leadership on a people is mostly the key to dissension and rebellion amongst followers. A leader must acknowledge the rights of the people to choose their own leaders since they know the people whom they can relate with better. An imposed leadership is a separated leadership. Most followers will never follow an imposed leadership.
- The Twelve prevented the people from making carnal selections by giving spiritually directed guidelines. Even though the people should select their representatives, they still must be honestly guided. If the followers knew what to do, they will definitely not need a leader. Leadership is desired to ensure that the followers do not take wrong decisions and selection of a representative is a key area that they will need guidance from a honest leadership.
By these honest and sincere actions of the Christian leadership at that time, they acted pro-actively and anarchy was avoided. That no doubt remains one of the options if not the only option available to Christian leaders today for peace to be restored into the fold of Christ. May God help to restore peace and orderliness into the body of Christ in Jesus name. Amen.