Investing in People
Pastor Eugene exhorts us to encourage and develop the staff whom God has entrusted to our stewardship.
In Acts 18, we’re introduced to a Jew named Apollos. Originally from Alexandria, in the region of modern-day north Africa, he met Paul and his associates in the Central Asian city of Ephesus (Acts 18:24).
Apollos was a gifted teacher of God’s word. Luke describes him as “an eloquent man, competent in the Scriptures”. Not only did Apollos have a good understanding of God’s word, but his knowledge was also fuelled by zeal for the Lord. “Being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus.” (Acts 18:25a).
For all his gifts and abilities, however, Apollos was not the “finished product”. His grasp of the gospel was incomplete, for he “knew only the baptism of John” (Acts 18:25b). Therefore, while Apollos was a capable speaker, he still needed to gain a clearer understanding of the gospel and God’s word.
Encouragingly, Apollos was not left to figure things out for himself. A godly couple, Priscilla and Aquila, came alongside to help him to grow. When they heard Apollos’ teaching, they “took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately” (Acts 18:26b).
It is wonderful how Priscilla and Aquila made the effort to do spiritual good to Apollos. They did not grumble, gossip, or complain about Apollos. Instead, they lovingly invested time and energy to help him gain a better grasp of the truth.
Priscilla and Aquila exemplify for us what it means to invest in someone else’ growth. Here at Grace Baptist Church, our desire is to cultivate and deepen a culture of discipling, in which fellow members are intentionally doing spiritual good to one another. This means encouraging one another through reading the Bible and praying together, having spiritual conversations, and walking with one another through the ups-and-downs of life.
Thanks to Priscilla and Aquila, Apollos did indeed grow in the faith. Subsequently, the Ephesian church commended and sent Apollos to the Christians in Achaia. He was a tremendous blessing to the church there: “When he arrived, he greatly helped those who through grace had believed, for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, showing by the Scriptures that the Christ was Jesus.” (Acts 18:27-28)
This brief account of Apollos in Acts encourages us to steward the people whom the Lord brings to us. This helps shape our priorities for the church staff. God has graciously provided us with a wonderful staff team. I’m so grateful to be serving with them in the work of the gospel. I thank God for my fellow pastors: Oliver and Thian Chye, for the ministry workers: Carrie, Siew Ting, Bibianna, Yanadi, and Joshua, for the administrative staff: Gideon and Pauline, as well as for the interns: Rolland, Sam, and Ryan.
As I shared during last weekend’s quarterly congregational meeting, our staff help grow gospel ministry. Being fully supported by the church allows them to devote much more time and energy to the work of the gospel. This, in turn, widens and deepens the church’s disciple-making efforts. The staff help us to fulfil our vision to be a disciple-making church that transforms lives with the gospel and love of Jesus Christ.
At the same time, it is vital for us to realise that the staff do not do the work for us. The staff do not monopolise ministry. Rather, their role is to equip the members of GBC to do ministry. This is a second key priority. The staff serve so that we serve. They help organise, mobilise, and resource the church for the work of the gospel. My prayer is for every GBC member to be doing spiritual good to others, so that the whole body grows in unity for the gospel’s sake.
God has entrusted GBC with an important stewardship of our staff. The staff do not serve at our pleasure, but according to God’s will and call on their lives. They are not our “employees” as such, but we must view them as co-labourers with us in the work of the gospel. Hence, as fellow members of the church, we are responsible for their encouragement and growth in the faith.
This brings me to the third key priority for our staff. Since they represent a stewardship from God that has been entrusted to us, we are to develop the staff for future ministry. Depending on where God calls them, they may continue with us in the longer term, or they may be called to serve the gospel elsewhere. We love them well by encouraging them to grow in Christ during their time with us. So, let’s be intentional about investing in our staff, so that they may be better equipped to labour for the gospel wherever God sends them.
I speak of this from experience. Personally, I’ve benefitted from another church’s generous investment in my life. While my wife and I were living in the United States, we were members of Capitol Hill Baptist Church. That church invested significantly in my growth and development as I sought to discern a call to full-time ministry. I had an opportunity to intern with the church, which supported my theological education. The church had a thriving culture of equipping men and women, so that they could be sent out to serve the gospel.
My prayer for GBC is that as we more deliberately invest in the people God has entrusted to our stewardship, we too will grow in our ability to be a sending church. May God help GBC to be a church that actively tests, trains, affirms, and sends faithful men and women for the gospel’s sake, whether to plant a church locally, to strengthen another local church, or to make disciples among the nations.