According to the notes in the NAB, this division of labor was not so much between preaching and serving the poor, but between preaching and keeping the financial accounts that recorded the distribution of food to the needy (wasn’t that Judas’ former job?). This is an interesting distiction, becuse it’s one thing to divide preaching from serving the poor, another to divide it from monetary concerns.
The first possibilty bothers me … like David and Larry pointed out, this seems to create a moral hierarchy (preaching to others is better than helping others), and also seems to seperate contemplation from action, when I’d like them to be combined.
The second possibility seems more acceptable … to divide preaching from money worries. I may be going off on an unrelated tangent, but this is one thing I appreciate about the catholic model … priests are not directly “paid” for preaching by those to whom they preach, at least not exactly. And they don’t decide how the money that does come in will be spent. Thus preaching will not be swayed by concerns like … am I preaching popular stuff that will bring in paying customers? Hmmm, Bob hasn’t been in church recently, listening to my great sermons – let’s not give him any charity.
At any rate, the NAB also points out that this passage was probably put in to introduce Stephen, who will have a big part to play later as a martyr. Whenever he is mentioned, he’s not shown taking care of the finances or handing out food, but preaching.