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The Apostles – Priorities

by Randy Cole - API President

Priorities are often mismanaged because they are not appreciated.

The leadership trait in the Scriptures:

“Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”(Ephesians 5:15-16)

First, let’s examine the dangers of prioritization. Let’s ensure that we know what it is not before discovering what it is.

1.Prioritization is not an excuse for disobedience or neglect. For example, someone might say (like the apostles in Acts 6) that their calling is to preach/teach the Word. And because this is their calling, they say might say that a “food program” is “not my thing” and place that task or program on the back burner, never to be seen or heard from again.

2.Prioritization is not a pathway for saying “no”. God-appointed opportunities are placed in our pathway every day. We must be able to recognize them and obey accordingly. We can’t just say “that’s not on my priority list” and dismiss the opportunity. We must be able to “understand what the will of the Lord is” (Eph 5:16).

3.Setting priorities is not my job. Every day, I must sacrifice my will and seek His Will for my life. My daily prayer should be “Lord, please order my day”. (Psalm 119:133)

4.Prioritization is not an excuse to eliminate an unpleasant task. I can’t just say “that’s not on my priority list” and refuse to do something that I don’t want to do.

Let’s examine Acts 6:1-7 as a foundational text for this subject. What does this passage teach us?

1.The definition of Priority is Time. Verse 2: “We apostles should spend our time teaching the word of God.” Verse 4: “Then we apostles can spend our time in prayer and teaching the word.” (NLT) You might state and/or verbalize your priorities, but the test will be how you spend your time. By definition, that becomes your individual priority.

2.As a leader, you must know your individual priorities. The apostles knew that their priorities were prayer and teaching the Word.

3.When priorities are mismanaged, there are “rumblings of discontent”. Have you ever seen this in our churches today?

4.Rapid growth can be one of the causes of mismanaging priorities.

5.Priority does not equal importance.

  • Serving food to widows was an extremely important program in the early church. James stated it like this “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress” (James 1:27). The Apostles recognized that they did not have enough time to oversee this ministry effectively AND have enough time for prayer and teaching the Word. Therefore, they wanted to make sure that the feeding program would continue to be administered by well-respected leaders from the body of Christ.
  • Romans 12:4-5 teaches us that “Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others”. 1 Corinthians 12 teaches us that God himself has arranged the parts of the body “just as he wanted them to be” (verse 18). Furthermore, “If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be?” (verse 17). These passages teach us that every believer has been gifted by the Holy Spirit to provide an important function to the whole body.
  • 6.Sharing and delegating the work and creating an environment where every member of the body is empowered to use their talents and gifts to perform their God-given functions – this is the ultimate solution.

    7.Kingdom growth will happen if we correctly manage priorities (Acts 6:7).

    The Process of Managing Priorities (Acts 6:1-7)

  • The entire body of believers was involved in the process.
  • The apostles communicated their requirements (well-respected, full of the Spirit and wisdom) for leaders who would be responsible for the food program.
  • The selection of “the seven” came from the body, not from the apostles.
  • After selection, “the seven” were presented to the apostles, who laid their hands on them and commissioned them.
  • Shared authority and shared responsibility is modeled in this passage.
  • Managing Priorities is a pathway for growing and empowering new leaders. What else do we know about “the seven”?

  • Philip, one of the seven, became an influential evangelist and church planter (Acts 21:8)
  • Stephen, “a man full of God's grace and power, did great wonders and miraculous signs among the people” (Acts 6:8). He was also the first martyr of The Way.
  • Nicolas was a gentile from Antioch who converted to Judaism.
  • Details about the other 4 are not specifically mentioned in the New Testament, but we can assume that all of the seven met the requirements laid out by the apostles.
  • oThey were leaders.

    oThey were full of the Spirit.

    oThey were well respected.

    oThey were obedient followers of Christ (full of wisdom).

  • These new leaders accomplished the mission. How do we know? “Rumblings of discontent” went away and “the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.” (Acts 6:7)
  • Questions for Reflection . . .

  • Do I understand precisely what my priorities are?
  • How do I determine what my priorities are?
  • Do I think that “my priorities” are more important than others?
  • oAm I sharing and delegating the work?

    oAm I fostering an environment where every member of the body can perform his/her God-given function?

    oHow can I manage priorities as a pathway to develop new leaders?

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