When reading and studying the Bible, a good Christian should focus on stories and Bible characters that most closely align with one’s spiritual aspirations and goals. I’m sure that we can all agree that Jesus Christ is the ultimately example as to who we should aspire to be as devout Christians. However, who else could we learn from in the Bible?
Stephen, that’s who. Stephen is probably the most underrated, underappreciated person in the Bible. Saint Stephen who was a deacon in the early church of Jerusalem, was known for being stoned to death by a mob following a dispute with members of a synagogue. His martyrdom is renowned by many, but unfortunately, this is the only thing that Stephen is known for when his name is ever mentioned and when his story is ever preached. But his life was so much more than this.
In those days, when the number of disciples was increasing, and the Jews among them complained that their wives 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 on tables.’
Because of this, the disciples told them to choose seven men from among them who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. The disciples would turn the food distribution responsibility over to these 7 so that they could give their attention to prayer and the ministry of the Word.
This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, along with 6 other men. So essentially, Stephen was a waiter. Yep, he waited on tables; that was what he was ordained to do. That was his calling. Sounds weak, doesn’t it?
But it wasn’t at all. In fact, his job as a waiter was a great job indeed. Acts chapter 6 explains, “Now Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, performed great wonders and signs among the people.” He did this as a member of wait staff. He wasn’t a great preacher, or bishop, or prophet. He wasn’t a famous evangelist, minister, teacher, or missionary. He was a waiter. And yet God used him to do great wonders and works. Stephen preached the word of God while serving people food and had a tremendous impact on a world of people, and he led many to Christ while working at an ordinary day job.
His story gets deeper. During that time, the Sanhedrin was the secular body that attempted to hinder the church from propagating. When the disciples began teaching and preaching the gospel, this governing body made passive attempts at preventing the disciples from spreading the Word. However, once Stephen began preaching while serving food, he was stoned to death. In addition, on this day, a great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. In effect, Stephen’s sub-ministry led to the upheaval of the Sanhedrin. Not Peter’s ministry, Stephen’s. Even though his job was run in the mill, his impact was greater than the Twelve who were great disciples of the Word of God.
Stephen’s story tells us that, no matter what job you are doing or what your calling or occupation is, you can make a significant difference in Christ. It’s often difficult to believe that one can make a difference by working at a job like a factory or in the corporate world. But actually you can, just like Stephen did. The bible says we are to be like living epistles written among men. We may be the only Bible that your coworkers ever read, so we should utilize the time we have at work to be just that. The impact we have may potentially be far greater than that of our pastors, for we can possibly reach people that your pastor or preacher never could. Stephen is proof of that, making him the second most important person to know in the Bible.