Initiative (1 Timothy 5:16)

If a woman who is a believer has relatives who are widows, she must take care of them and not put the responsibility on the church. Then the church can care for the widows who are truly alone. (1 Timothy 5:16)

There is an old story about four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody. It goes like this: "There was an important job to be done and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. Somebody got angry about that, because it was Everybody’s job. Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that
Everybody wouldn’t do it. It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have."

You might need to read that a couple of times to get the double meaning! Essentially it's a story about initiative. How often have you seen something that needed doing but have just left it out of laziness and an expectation that "somebody" else would do it?

We can make the mistake of thinking that when we're made a leader we are now "somebody" but "somebody" is not a person with a title but the person who takes initiative and does what needs doing.

Paul addresses this situation in this verse in which he brings to a close talk about the widow's list. Remember, these were women in the church whose husbands had died leaving them with no source of income. Both here and in verse 8, Paul reminds the church that the responsibility of caring for widows lies first with her relatives. Only if they are unwilling or unable to help should the church step in and offer support.

This rule was put in place to stop families abdicating responsibility to other people to do what was their own duty. "Why should I give money to support my relative if the church can do it for me!?" It seems this was, potentially at least, the reasoning of some who thought more about themselves than they did about their responsibilities.

As you step into leadership you've likely been given a list of responsibilities. If you fulfill these, then that is commendable, but it's even more commendable if you do those tasks that "Anybody" could do but perhaps  "Nobody" does. Tasks like, doing the dishes in the kitchen or tidying up the youth room after youth group.

One of the indicators I would look for that would tell me that a person was ready for leadership responsibilities was their willingness to do these tasks, especially without being asked.


What tasks could you be doing each week in the programme in which you lead that are not technically demanded of you? Next week, intentionally look for things that need doing, and do them without waiting to be asked, or waiting for "somebody" else to do them,