those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenistic Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.” This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism. They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them. Acts 6:1-6
I think I was made a partner in my law firm pretty close to the same year I was ordained as a deacon in my church. To be honest, they felt quite a bit the same to me. In both cases, I felt like I was being recognized for some qualities and characteristics which, in reality, I may or may not have possessed. In both cases it felt like an achievement, an honor, a privilege and a terrifying responsibility all at the same time. In both cases, it would cost me, but I was more than happy to pay the price. In both cases, it meant stepping up into both servanthood and leadership. Both occasions were spiritual markers in my life…and, in both cases, the “honor” raised a great deal more questions in my mind than it answered.
Tuesday Re-mix – This is a popular post from last year, updated and resubmitted for your consideration and comments.
I once consulted with a church where a deacon was caught sexually molesting a little girl in the children’s department. He was the only adult (1st mistake) in a children’s Sunday School room with no windows (2nd mistake) and the church had never run any kind of background check on him (or any of their other volunteer workers…3rd mistake). The man fully confessed to the authorities and to the parents of the little girl, and then even more fully confessed to both a problem and a history in this area. He stood before his church and confessed as well. There was actually reconciliation between him and the injured family and there was spiritual restoration of this brother. It was a pretty extraordinary situation in that regard. All of this happened before the church ended up calling me for mediation.
Why then the need for mediation if there was reconciliation all the way around? It was because of what happened in his criminal prosecution and what happened in the church after his release from prison.
A dispute arose in the church about whether the injured family, who said they had fully forgiven him, should have nonetheless testified in the criminal prosecution. Another dispute arose after that, when the man asked to return to work in the children’s Sunday School department, but this time under strict supervision. There was a dispute about how to respond to this request. The argument in both instances centered around the meaning of forgiveness. “If we have forgiven him, shouldn’t we forego testifying at his trial and shouldn’t we trust him again with our children?” Eventually, the church concluded (rightly, I believe) that the correct answer to these …