What Are We Devoted to? (Devotion)

Let's look at our predecessors to see how they eldered. Let's explore Acts chapter 6, verses 1 through 7.

Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, "It is not right that we should give up preaching the Word of God to serve tables. 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. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the Word." And what they said pleased the whole gathering, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch. These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands on them. And the Word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith. (Acts 6:1-7)

So what do we see the leadership of the church in Jerusalem do in Acts 6? First, they called a church meeting. Second, they asked the church to nominate seven men of good reputation to organize service to widows and presumably other needy people. Third, they appointed those the church nominated. Finally, they prayed for them and laid hands on them. 
We have a similar process in our church every year in our deacon nomination. First, we ask our members about their willingness to serve as deacons. Then, we appoint deacons to serve and then pray over them in a morning service. I like that tradition. 
In this historical account, there is a justification for why the leaders set up this service team that is relevant today. Verse 4, "We will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word." In our meetings, we must talk about church business, policy, and strategy. However, we must not forget our primary role as leaders of the church. Verse 4 gets close to capturing what that role entails: a devotion to God's Word and prayer. It sounds too simplistic to my ears. The little voice in my head asks, "We are paying you to what? You accomplished what?" But the text offers the reason for moving out of service roles, delegating them, to instead focus on the Bible and talking to God. What did that look like? Did that mean they went out preaching, doing Bible studies with non-believers, or were they memorizing it and trying to understand it? We don't know. What does that mean for us in the 21st century? What does that mean for our local church? I think it is valuable for us to refocus and make sure we keep the main things central. Our mission, as leaders in the church, is grounded in the Bible. We want to lift this book up because it tells us the only way to God, Jesus. We also want to nurture a healthy relationship with God ourselves. God is our strength and help. He is our hope and longs for us to be in a close relationship with him. If we are not praying, we are missing out on one of the most important things we can do in a day. I am coaching myself here. That is why I love verse 4. It focuses us with a few words on some key things that we too often neglect: the Word and prayer. 

(Thanks to Patrick Fore from Unsplash for the picture)