by Todd Arnold
In Acts 6, the early church faced a new kind of dilemma. The church needed to help and provide for the widows in the community and teach and preach the Gospel. The disciples realized that they couldn't be effective stewards of the Gospel and take care of these important social responsibilities at the same time. Something had to change.
We've All Been There
"Why didn't John do that? He knew it needed done. He's just lazy! Can't anyone else see when something needs done around here?" I thought as I slumped into my chair with exhaustion.
Ever find yourself in a similar situation? Things need done, and everything seems to fall in your lap. But you just can't do everything. Getting everything done effectively requires a team that works together well. This is what the disciples realized in Acts 6.
The solution proposed by the twelve embodied the principle of defining and communicating roles and responsibilities. The disciples defined their role as giving themselves "continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word." Having sat under the teaching of Jesus, they were uniquely qualified for this role. They also defined a role responsible for serving tables (Acts 6:2) with requirements that the individual given the responsibility be of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost, and wise (Acts 6:3). Seven men were selected to fill this role. The disciples created and defined roles to maximize the effectiveness of their ministry team. They selected qualified men and empowered them to get the job done.
What was the result? The word of God increased; the number of disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith (Acts 6:7). When people know what is expected of them, it is more likely that they get it done. When every team member performs his role completely, the likelihood of the team being successful increases greatly.
In order for an individual to fill a role successfully, the expectations of the role need to be clearly defined and communicated.
Each role in a well-built organization exists for a reason. Something needs done. In order for an individual to fill a role successfully, the expectations of the role need to be clearly defined and communicated. Otherwise, the individual filling the role does what he assumes he is responsible to do, which may or may not be correct. As a result, some things don't get done.
The next time you slump into your chair in frustration, ask yourself, “Why didn't John do what I thought he should do? Did he really recognize that it needed done and that it was his responsibility to do it? Did I make it clear to him that he owned the task? Did I make sure he understood what needed done? Maybe John's failure to perform is really my fault.”
Guidelines for Getting Things Done
First, do your homework by generating a clear, written picture of what needs done. Invest some time alone up front. A checklist may be the end result.
Then, communicate your expectations to the designated individual. Give him a copy of the checklist and review it line by line. Ask questions to ensure he understood you correctly.
Following these steps will put everyone on the same page, increasing the likelihood that your expectations will be met: everything will get done without you having to do it.
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