In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Grecian Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. 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 tables.” Acts 6:1-2
I recently read Alexandra Kuykendall’s book, “The Artist’s Daughter.” In it, she’s overwhelmed with all the “to do’s” in her life. When grappling with what to step up for, versus what to cut out, she uses the phrase “Do what only I can do.” My immediate thought was that the editor overlooked a typographical error and it was supposed to say, “Do only what I can do.” But Kuykendall goes on to clarify that if someone else is able to do something, the onus doesn’t fall just on her to do it. There are others who can step forward and help. It’s the things that ONLY she can do, that no one else can, that she absolutely should step forward for.
In this scripture passage, the Apostles knew this instinctively. Of course they were capable of serving the widows during the daily distribution of food. But so weren’t others. What others couldn’t do was spread the word of God as well as the Apostles could. That was something “ONLY they could do.” They couldn’t neglect that; it was their top priority. Instead, they carefully chose and empowered others to serve the widows. They heard the need, discerned a solution, and then delegated out the task that would have robbed them of their time to fulfill their number one priority.
I could learn a lot from both Kuykendall and the Apostles in this department. When I look at my plate and how full it is, I need to use this philosophy to decide my priorities, and to discern what I can either step away from, or delegate out. As a wise person said to me, taking this point further, I need to incorporate this view point not just from my front door out, but from my front door in. ONLY I can nurture, teach and love my children the way that God has called me to do. If stepping forward to collect money for the teacher’s end of the year gift means I’m sending and responding to so many emails I’m neglecting my own kids, I need to realize that someone else is perfectly capable of that task. If volunteering to be a Boy Scout Leader or Destination Imagination coach means that I won’t be home to oversee homework or cook somewhat healthy dinners, I need to realize that someone else could be just as good of a leader or coach as I could be, probably better!
However, in the chaos that is dinnertime, I am the ONLY one who can deal with the cooking. But that doesn’t mean I can’t delegate out parts of the process to my kids. Zack, who can’t work the oven and stove top yet, can fill the water glasses. Mason, who hasn’t quite mastered carrying full glasses to the table without spilling them yet, can fold napkins. Jocelyn, who can’t fold napkins yet, can put the silverware on the table. In fact, helping to set the table not only empowers my kids, but it teaches them that many hands make for lighter work, and that helping feels good.
Yes, we should step forward as often as we can to help out, to pay things forward, to make the world a better place. But when we aren’t able to accomplish the tasks that ONLY we can do, that God has called us to do, we have to recheck our priorities, and align our actions with them.
The Apostles knew that their number one priority was to spread the Word of God. Had they not kept that priority front and center, the Church and God’s message would have suffered greatly. My number one priority is to be there for my kids. I can’t run the risk any longer of losing sight of that priority. If I do, both my kids and I will suffer greatly.