If you’re a leader or someone who wants to be known as a leader, Acts 6:1-7 is worth meditating on. There are some key thoughts within those verses. Among them are:
- The bigger the community, the greater the chance that conflict will happen. This is the moment that leadership is needed the most.
- Conflict in the community often brings the opportunity for new leadership roles.
- The door to leadership is service.
- Leaders are chosen before they are appointed.
I could go on, but I want to point your attention to the way this new class of leaders are chosen. Check out what verse 3 says:
“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.”
– Acts6:3 ESV
As I said at UNF worship, these seven men were not born with these qualities – no one is. They had to have developed these qualities before there was a conflict and before there were open spots for leadership. Often, it is the lack of “front-end” preparation that holds us back from being noticed & promoted. Maybe the first step in preparing for future leadership is to ask some evaluation questions. The following, based on those Acts 6 qualities, are a good place to start.
- What is my reputation in the community? Not what do I think of me, but what do others think of me? Even Jesus asked this question (Mark 8:27). It’s not that what others think of you and your leadership is the only thing that matters. Sometimes the community can be wrong. But your reputation – how people receive your actions and how they perceive your intentions – is at the very least great information for you to know.
- Am I full of the Holy Spirit? Put another way, do people experience Jesus when they are around me? This question gets at the heart of what it means to follow Jesus – becoming like Him. It moves past desires to simply be viewed as friendly, organized, and dependable, emphasizing ideas like the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), humble service (Philippians 2:1-11) and Christ-like greatness (Luke 22:24-27). Therefore, being ‘full of the Holy Spirit’ can also mean positioning oneself to be as close to Jesus as possible (through scripture reading, prayer, worship and involvement in a faith community). No one masters this point, but some choose to prioritize their proximity to Jesus and their personal, on the ground witness of Him. These are the people who would be called ‘full of the Spirit’.
- Do I have wisdom? This question is the hardest because it reflects the long game of the first two. Paying attention to your reputation, while engaging an evolving relationship with Jesus over time yields what most would call wisdom. The Book of Proverbs is widely known as a collection of wise sayings. It doesn’t take long though to realize that most of the verses encourage trust in God while paying attention to how you act in the world. Like the other two, no one is born wise – we become wise. So the question ‘do I have wisdom’ is a cumulative one that presses us to think again about the first two.
The Acts 6 qualities of a good reputation, a Spirit-filled life and long-term wisdom, are attributes necessary for leadership both within faith communities as well as on campus, the work place, and in society. You must ‘step up’ and ‘step in’ to them; they will not come to you without intention and effort. Clearly, the seven men of Acts 6 were working on these qualities long before they knew they would be asked to lead. If you want to be a leader, these qualities are available to you.
Real talk: the world isn’t getting any better right now. There will more than likely be new conflicts and complaints in the coming years. This is why we need leaders. Now is the time to prepare yourself, offer yourself to Jesus, and get ready to do whatever it takes to advance His mission in the world. Who’s with me?