Stephen was obviously a man that the early church had a lot of respect for. He evidently had a heart for God and a heart for people. This is why he was chosen as one of the first servant leaders in the Jerusalem church. I think I would have enjoyed hanging around him and letting some of what was in him overflow to me. I use the word overflow because of what Acts 6 says about him.
- He was full of the Spirit (v.3)
- He was full of wisdom (v.3)
- He was full of faith (v.5)
- He was full of God’s grace (v.8)
- He was full of power (v.8)
No need for me to say anything about each of those as they speak for themselves. What I will say is that this would not be the way that other people would describe me. For that matter, I can count on one hand the number of people that I might even think about describing that way.
I have always been intrigued by a verse in Ephesians 3 where Paul prays for the believers in Ephesus and concludes by saying “that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” (v.19) Acts 6 gives a picture of a man for whom this is true. Stephen lived a full life – not in the sense that we tend to think of it today – but in the sense that he was full of God. And those who are full live lives that overflow to others. Their influence is a result of the “spill effect” as they bump up against other people. Note what Acts 6:7 says about Stephen and the others who were chosen…
“So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.”
It would seem that the “secret” to church growth has nothing to do with great buildings or well-designed programs or even powerfully delivered sermons but with men who live full lives in the way that Stephen did.