Doing the work of the Ministry (Office Martyrdom)

Acts 6:1-5a, 8 “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 Stephen, full of grace and power, was performing great wonders and signs among the
people.” NASB

I guess you could say this is in some regards a follow up to some of my thoughts on how missions work can take on many forms.  (see previous post)

Do you ever hate your job? Ever feel like you’re wasting your time, and you’d almost rather die than spend one more hour at work?  Does it seem like you’re doing “grunt work”, rather than “real ministry”?  Yep…I sometimes feel like that too. I think we all do.

But we are each called to different ministries, and they are all vital. The twelve were called to prayer and the ministry of the word.  Stephen was called to be a waiter.  I don’t think you could get much farther from “glamorous” ministry than being the designated church busboy and resident food bank manager.  Yet that is what Stephen was chosen for.

Stephen, “a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit…” Stephen, “full of grace and power, was performing great wonders and signs among the people.”  Yet this Stephen was the one doing the “grunt work” of giving food to the widows every day. Your work may be well known, or it may be “menial labor”, but it all counts, and you can live a life so marked by God that people will see the ministry, whatever you are doing.

Was serving tables the only thing Stephen was doing?  No, of course not.  Dude got picked on a charge of alleged blasphemy.  He was a waiter, but also a preacher.  Note to self: keep an eye out for any and every chance to minister to others.

Next thing you know, after being arrested, he’s preaching a Spirit-filled sermon at his trial…covering the entire history of Israel…and ending with a vision of Jesus.  Long story short, everyone in the courtroom gets angry, drags him out of the city, and stones him to death.  The first martyr.  Not a pretty ending.

But how many came to know God because Stephen didn’t shun being a waiter and insist on only being a preacher?  The writer of a good chunk of the New Testament was there that day…cheering on those who killed Stephen… But I suspect Stephen’s words may have come to mind later, after Saul’s own encounter with the risen Christ.

Your time for preaching up front may well come, depending on your calling from God.  But don’t wait for the spotlight to speak.  Whatever your position is today, seek to be “full of faith and the Holy Spirit.”  You may be surprised at what God does in and through you while you’re “just working.”

What are you waiting for?

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