Then the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, “It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables. Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business; but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” And the saying pleased the whole multitude. And they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch, whom they set before the apostles; and when they had prayed, they laid hands on them.
There he sat in his glass cube of an office, the skyline behind him in the distance. He was beginning to tell the story of what everyone thought was a meteoric rise to becoming the leader of that organization. The intern thought this story might begin with a coveted ivy league education and his knowing the right people, but that would not be the case. Yes, that man entered his first position there as a qualified and competent candidate, but it was his flexibility that got him noticed. He had to be willing to take on the unglamorous duties necessary to support his leadership before he could fill their shoes. If he was too proud to do the small things, he would not be humble enough to do the big things well.
I used to work for a very large company, and the CEO at the time of my initial hire was known for one thing. Some people saw it as a sign of a good work ethic while others saw it as his qualification. He started with that company not in the C suite or in the management level but in the mail room sorting letters. His was a story of working hard at the bottom, treating the small jobs no differently than the big ones, and being faithful in the work assigned to him. The discipleship which leads to taking on the mantle from another often will begin this way. God is not looking for hot shots and superstars. He is looking for people who are willing to let him be the hot shot and the superstar through them as they serve others.
Those seven men could have looked at their assignment as deacons as something thrown at them just because the twelve apostles were too busy with the big, important things to do that work. That kind of attitude might have made them bitter enough to reject those posts. The truth is that the work they were assigned was not only important but ordained. When those hands were laid on them, they ushered in the beginning not of man’s calling but of God’s calling. Little did Stephen know that this humble assignment would lead to him being one of the great martyrs of our faith. Father, give us the humility to walk in discipleship with the faithfulness to do the small things with as much excellence as we would approach the big ones.