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. Brothers, 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…They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit.
Acts 6:2-3, 5
From beginning to end the book of Acts reads like a chronicle of people used by God to accomplish the seemingly impossible.
Peter preaches at Pentecost and sees 3,000 converted.
The disciples heal so many people that the sick are brought into the streets so that their shadows might fall on them.
Philip teleports after preaching the gospel.
Paul threatens the entire socioeconomic stability of a city with his preaching. Raises a dead kid to life. Survives a stoning. Shipwrecks and survives. And goes to Rome to appear before Caesar. Because he’s Paul.
But then you have Stephen. Who waits on tables for widows.
Doesn’t seem very noteworthy. But never underestimate God’s ability to use small, seemingly insignificant assignments to set the stage for significant impact.
If you read on in the story Stephen begins doing great wonders amongst the people. There’s no indication that he’s vacated his post of waiting on tables. So we can probably assume he’s doing miracles in the midst of his mundane duties. Apparently he’s so powerful that the local officials need to shut him up. So they bring up false charges and make him defend himself. In front of the high priest.
So what does this waiter have to say to the Jewish scholars and powerbrokers of his day? A lot. He ends up preaching the longest recorded sermon in the book of Acts.
Not Peter. Not Paul. Or any of the other apostles. But Stephen the waiter.
He does so well that they kill him. A tragic ending for Stephen, but by far his most significant moment. And that’s because the ensuing persecution that comes from Stephen’s sermon and death forces the church out of Judea and into Samaria and eventually into Gentile territory. Where the Gospel flourishes and becomes a worldwide movement.
That’s exponential impact, but it all started with waiting on tables for widows.
What tables are you waiting on right now? What insignificant assignments are you having to carry out that feel like they’re beneath the destiny that God has for you?
Don’t ever forget that what starts as an insignificant assignment often leads to your most significant moment.
This blog post was originally posted on September 16, 2010