The Laying On Of Hands Is Also Used To Appoint Someone For Service To The Lord
1 In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenistic Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. 2 So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. 3 Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them 4 and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.”
5 This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism. 6 They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them.
Selection for Service
The Apostles were engaged in very important work. They were feeding the flock by teaching the word of God; church planting; and tending to the other needs of the flock. Part of the responsibility that they were exercising was to ensure that the widows were being fed. Rather than neglect their other responsibilities, they selected several men who were full of (yielded to the control of) the Holy Spirit to take over this aspect of ministry.
One of the failings of smaller churches today is that they need warm bodies to fill positions. I have heard from people (who at the time were baby Christians) who were chosen to be Elders in their church simply because there was no one else to fill the position. And God was faithful in raising them up, for if God calls you to service, He will certainly provide what you need to accomplish His tasks.
One of the outward signs of maturity in Christ is that the person is exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit in how they conduct themselves:
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
The church leadership (or nominating committee) needs to seek out individuals who are exhibiting these qualities in their lives before they consider the person for service. The qualifications for Deacons and Elders are clear on this.
Ministry is not an isolated endeavor where people go off somewhere to do something by themselves; rather, it is a partnership between them and the local body. The partnership can be both financial and spiritual. It is important that the body of Christ provide a prayer covering over those who are engaged in ministry. Anyone engaged in ministry has a target on their backs by our enemies who seek to disrupt the ministry and disgrace those who are in the spotlight. We need to be in constant prayer as prayer partners, just as Epaphras struggled in prayer for the saints.
Paul also warns us that we should be careful in selecting who we should lay on hands (in the context of appointing to ministry):
Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, and do not share in the sins of others. Keep yourself pure.
It is important that we are yielded to the Holy Spirit and listen to Him as He speaks to our hearts and through the word of God in selecting who we should appoint to ministry. God can certainly use anyone in any way that He deems fit. He can certainly raise someone up, and provide and prepare them for what is to come. Conversely, it is our responsibility to choose people who He wants us to choose. Even in the case of Paul, the elders appointed Paul to ministry after being told by God to do so.
A Qualifying Question
Let’s ask a question: Am I yielding myself to the Holy Spirit as He is asking me?
A short prayer of preparation:
Father in Heaven, Thank You for Your word. Help me to better understand through Your word and Your Spirit the laying on of hands for dedication to service in ministry. Help me to be better yielded to the Holy Spirit so that I may live the life You have given me for Your purposes. Help me to walk in Your ways, and to a vessel of gold and silver that I would be useful to you. Help me when I am called to discern when others should be chosen for service that it would be Your choice and not mine. This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.