“Leaders understand that activity is not necessarily accomplishment” – John C. Maxwell.
This morning I was reading through The Acts of the Apostles and stumbled upon this verse:
“It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables…we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word”
It made me think of priorities and what do we do.
I’m currently feel slowly being nudged back into “church ministry” after a 9+ month withdrawal. It’s been a refreshing and revealing season, with several challenges, unexpected accomplishments and a lot of heart work.
And now, I’m being presented with several opportunities to serve in different ways. From preaching, to mentoring. From youth groups to small groups. I’m still establishing myself in the habit of writing and learning new things in that area.
So how do I choose what to engage with and what not? (See Life Purpose)
In this Bible reading, I realised there is another solution when presented with an opportunity. Another solution aside from engage or not engaging. A solution called: delegation.
Delegation: Frees me to focus on my calling, allows others to step into leadership, encourages me to pass on what I know, affirms the gifts and passions of others.
The second thing that I’ve learnt from studying these 34 verses is that God provides. We mentioned it in the last post as one of God’s activities in Genesis 1. In the story God provides: breath, life, food, work and relationships. But there are two other subtle gifts that God has given.
These provisions will be explored in this post.
1. God Provides Authority
Notice the various words for authority in the passage: “Rule”, “Dominion”, “Subdue”.
The sun, moon and stars are told to ‘rule’ and govern the night and day, the light and darkness. Additionally, mankind is told to have ‘dominion’ over the animals and to ‘subdue’ the earth. In Hebrew these are three different words Rule, Dominion and Subdue (Mashal, Radah, Kabash).
One of the few significant things I have learned about leadership over the last few years, is that competent and confident leaders are not afraid to give away authority – or to delegate it. It is often because we fear being usurped, out-done or overshadowed that we are most tempted to “hoard” our power. So in delegating authority God reveals His confidence and competence.
We may be stingy with our authority is because we are scared of losing control. Giving it away to other people’s is a risk. In doing so we open up the opportunity for others to wreck havoc on our “master-plan”. God’s choice to give authority to His creation reveals His confidence in His own power and sovereignty. He knows that nothing is too far gone for Him to redeem – as in fact He will later do!
We see this same kind of faith extended towards humanity by Jesus, when He leaves the “keys of the kingdom” in the hands of a man who would soon deny Him three times! We see Jesus again, trusting man, when He commits the future of the Church to 11 unqualified fishermen, and one man who was the “worst of sinners” (Paul).
The fact that God provides authority to those He has created demonstrates His power and ability to save.
It also re-affirms the truth that ‘People are God’s Plan A’. In the book ‘How People Grow’, the authors argue that God’s number one plan for getting His people to move into maturity is through other people! God is less about “zapping” people to maturity and more about relationally nurturing them into it!
But God doesn’t just provide authority and power…
God provides Order(ed-time) in the midst of Chaos
One of the things the commentators picked up on, which I totally missed, was how God provides order. We see it in the layout of six days, the first three days are spent creating spaces, whilst the second three days are spent creating creatures to fill those places. We also see it when it says that the world was ‘formless and void’ and that ‘darkness was over the face of the deep’ – a state of chaos. The Hebrew words “Bohu” and “Tohu” are used. But God brings order when He speaks, light, form and purpose into the world.
The commentator of ‘The Message of Genesis’, went further to remind me that it didn’t have to be done this way. In fact God could have created a world of chaos. Where there would be no rules, no rationality, no patterns, in this kind of “contingency” science would not have been possible. However, science is possible and does exist because creation has been made in such a way that we can see patterns, logic and order.
It is because we can expect the law of gravity to work that we can map out black holes in the furthest reaches of the galaxy.
(In other words, it is because God has created a ‘cosmos of order’ that the theory of the Big Bang could even exist!) Mind-blowing!
This provision of order, is very clearly seen in the uses of stars, sun and moon to demonstrate ‘signs, seasons, days and years’. Time is possible because God made it so. He has provided time.
Taking this one step further: Not only has God provided chronological time (Greek: Chronos), He has also provided significant moments of time in which He moves (Greek: Kairos). The mention of the various lights to serve as ‘signs to mark sacred times’ implies these Kairos moments. These are instances when ‘God invests in our time, turning Chronos moments into Kairos moments’! This is a big concept to mention in a post on its own – forgive me! (I’m just making connections!)
“A Kairos moment is when God breaks into your circumstances” (Building a discipline culture – Breen)
God has Provided and therefore we need to Steward well
Since God has provided so much, including authority and ‘ordered-time’, it is our responsibility to steward these resources well. This is one way we can labour for others to pursue God’s heart.
In the Gospels, Jesus teaches through parables the importance of stewardship. What God has given us, He expects us to use, invest and manage wisely. This includes resources such as time and authority.
In my times with God this week I’ve been thinking about the various positions of authority I have, as well as the amount of time I have at my disposal. I want to make the most of the time God has given me and invest it well.
All this is to mention nothing of our responsibility to steward this planet well!