One of the earliest internal difficulties faced by the church was the care of the Hellenist widows by their Hebrew speaking counterparts. Seeking to remedy the situation quickly, the apostles called the multitude of the brethren together, saying, “It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables” (v 2).
The apostles were not in any way implying that they were too good to wait on tables as evidenced by the antecedent reason, namely, leaving the word of God. The point was that there were more pressing needs. In this case, they were the only ones capable to meet those needs. In response to the situation, the apostles gave the brethren the opportunity to solve the matter themselves.
The brethren chose seven men who were appointed by the apostles to oversee that problem. Within that framework we should also assume that others were put to work to solve the matter. Thus, the matter was remedied, and the word of God continued to have free course, and many were saved in Jerusalem (v 7).
Regardless of congregation size, the need to delegate work among the brethren is great. However, the ability or willingness to delegate often fails to keep pace with the need. Elders spend too much time doing the work that deacons have been commissioned to do. Preachers spend too much time doing the work elders have been commissioned to do.
The result is often a de facto pastor system, where the work of the local church originates and emanates from the preacher. The preacher takes the lead in presenting ideas for growth, takes the lead in promoting and implementing said ideas, and usually ends up as the overseer and primary player in the work itself.
In these situations, the brethren invariably look to the preacher for leadership and guidance in whatever work there is to be done. Many preachers like it this way, and even those who don’t fail to see that they have contributed to the situation by their willingness to be the “go to guy” in every situation.
The end results can vary, but inevitably the teaching of the word suffers because too many preachers and elders are waiting on tables. The preacher can also suffer burnout or become resentful of the demands that he has taken upon himself. We must learn and embrace the work God has commissioned for us to do!