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  • Writer's pictureJubilee Lipsey

Anointed to Serve

Updated: Apr 5

We so overcomplicate things in the Christian life, don't we? I'm starting to think that the biggest complication in the believer's life is our own striving after significance...even though we disguise it all under the umbrella of "service."

We so desperately want to know what God wants us to do, but we feel held back from doing it for one reason or another. Some pastor doesn't recognize our gifting, we're not noticed by enough people, we don't have enough opportunities to do what we feel good at. So often, we get stuck in these dilemmas feeling victimized or confusing image over substance.

The simple truth is that God has given us our marching act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with Him (Micah 6:8), to preach the Gospel boldly as ambassadors for Christ (2 Cor. 5:20), and to reach out to widows and orphans in their distress (James 1:27). That's more than enough to start with, and when we simply do as He directs alongside others in the faith, things are so much simpler. Not always easy, but simpler. And the fruit is obvious and amazing.

A perfect Scriptural example of this phenomenon fleshed out is Stephen.

Acts 6 reveals some pretty incredible things about this vibrant young believer. The first thing that stands out to me is that he was filled with the Spirit (something the early Church rightly saw as a necessity for the outworking of real faith), and therefore, he went about doing mighty deeds and healing the sick--all without position or permission. He didn't need either in order to be the hands and feet of Jesus. He gave away what he was filled with, powerfully sharing God's heart as He flowed with the Spirit.

Stephen was already full of grace and power and doing great works, but he wasn't vying for a preaching position, even though we can clearly see from later passages that he can preach!

He did things so well and acted so wisely that Scripture says people couldn't withstand or dispute his wisdom. It's obvious that his words and works were anchored in maturity and a deep relationship with God. And people took notice.

Stephen stood out so much so that the Church picked wait tables. He was part of a group of men who were chosen to distribute food to widows and make sure everyone was receiving their due. Powerful miracle-working Christian with a teaching gift chosen to wait tables. And it wasn't an insult!

The early Church understood the need for order within the Body as well as the family. And when everyone was fulfilling their role, the church ran smoothly and multiplied, giving the Apostles more freedom to preach the Gospel and intercede. Scripture tells us that a bunch of priests came to faith right around the time Stephen was appointed to this new position of service.

It's truly a beautiful thing when people aren't running around complaining about position but just doing what God put before them, serving out of the overflow of who they are in God, refusing to look down on certain roles that are needed. When this happens, the Word goes forth, everyone is cared for, and people are saved!

Check out the criteria the Apostles set forth for Stephen's new role: they wanted a man of good repute, wisdom, faith, grace, power, mighty works, and Spirit-filled. They wanted all that for a server! What does that tell you? This wasn't a cheap role. They honored it so much that the Apostles laid hands on Stephen in order to induct him into it! And, as we find out later, Stephen needed the grace of God and the prayers of his brothers and sisters to carry him through the big moment he's most known for--becoming the first martyr of the Church.

Don't subscribe to the world's vision when serving God in the Church. Of course, there are leadership roles that carry more responsibility and visibility than others, but we have sadly despised other roles, not wanting to serve God in the opportunities we're being offered. We would rather tell God what we're going to do and then get someone important to come along and install us in a position where everyone knows how good we are at the gifts we're practicing.

The truth is, you don't need visibility. You don't need permission. Just be FILLED with the Spirit. Know God. Walk with Him, and your service will be the overflow of God in you. That's what will make you stand out. That's what will help you fulfill your calling to the glory of God. And when you get noticed, it may not be for what you thought.

Stephen needed more humble courage than bravado for his big moment. It ended victoriously in spite of his death, and he was ready for it when it came because he was committed in the smaller moments beforehand, diligently walking out his calling wherever it was needed.

If you're waiting on tables full of the Spirit, you're not wasting your gifts.

The only way to waste your gifts is to ignore God's direction. But if you simply say, God, I want to do what's on your heart regardless of how it fits my preferences; I will take your invitations without insult, and I will fill the role you choose for me with honor, knowing you see my heart... He will honor you.

And paradoxically, others will see a whole lot more of your gifts than even you planned.

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