Old football coaches have a saying: “It’s Jimmies and Joes not X’s and O’s that win football games.”
A team might have an excellent game plan, creative formations and cutting-edge equipment, but if their players are untrained, weak and slow, they will not win many games.
The players are the key, not the plays.
The church in Jerusalem was struggling, and they were distracted by a division over the care of widows that threatened the advance of the gospel. In response to the challenge, the apostles put the spotlight on the need for players, not plays. They called for qualified people to rise up and address the matter so that the church could pursue her mission. The apostles did not propose a plan or a program, they appealed for qualified people.
As recorded in Scripture, “Therefore, brethren, select from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task” (Acts 6:3).
Consider this call for qualified people:
Our churches depend on people who are morally qualified – people of good reputation who live with integrity in the home and at work, and people marked by honesty and a consistency of character that wins the respect of their communities. It is tragic when the men and women who ought to be leading our churches forfeit their capacity to lead through moral compromise.
Our churches depend on people who are practically qualified – people who will take charge of a task. Too many of us want to come to a worship service that suits our preferences and then serve when the notion strikes us, shirking long-term responsibility. This kind of irresponsibility makes our churches weak.
Our churches depend on people who are spiritually qualified – people full of the Spirit and wisdom. The late missions leader Oswald Sanders used to say that spiritual work can only be done by spiritual people using spiritual means. Too many of us are weak and ineffective because we do not walk with Jesus consistently. If we abide in Him we bear much fruit, but apart from Him we can do nothing (John 15:5).
The honest truth is that the problems in our churches are spiritual problems; the enemy we face is a spiritual enemy. Only men and women able to wield spiritual weapons – prayer, the sword of the Word, a purity of life and proclamation of the gospel – and who are spiritually strong can address the problems that plague our society.
Many of our churches are weak because many of us are weak. We do not need to search for better plays, rather we need to become better players.
O Lord, we beg You to raise up men and women who are morally, practically and spiritually qualified to lead Your churches. Do this fresh new work by Your grace, through Your power and for Your glory. Amen.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Hance Dilbeck is executive director of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma. Reprinted from Baptist Press, baptistpress.com, news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.)