Christian Servant: Deacons
There are so many things that Christians do that go unseen or unnoticed—oftentimes these are very essential works that are behind the scenes. Buildings are maintained, sick are visited, orphans and widows are cared for, programs are carried out, all because many Christians desire to be servants for Him. Oftentimes, these efforts never receive an official “thank you” from the pulpit. And yet, they still get done because of someone’s love for God. Most people are very familiar with the 80/20 rule. This is the concept that 80 percent of the work is carried out by 20 percent of the people. I have had the pleasure of meeting and even working with individuals who are in the 20% that work hard. Ironically, I can’t recall anyone who told me they belonged to the 80% who do little.
When it comes to rolling up sleeves and doing work some individuals would rather take a pass. It’s hard for me personally to understand that disposition. As someone who regularly reflects on what Christ did for me, I have a burning passion to serve Him and be a better Christian with each new day. There are many weeks that I feel like I have not done enough! I would hope that all who wear the name “Christian” have a genuine desire to serve Him. One special group of individuals within the church actually wears the name “servants.” The word deacon is derived from the Greek word diakonos, which is commonly translated “servant.” These are men who have been selected to serve in particular capacities—usually taking advantage of specifics talents or fulfilling specific needs. Paul addressed his letter to the church at Philippi and included the deacons in his salutation (Philippians 1:1).
Here’s what I intend on teaching my children about deacons.
In the September/October 2005 issue of The Futurist, the writers analyzed how we spend our time. Although almost every American would argue they don’t have much free or leisure time, this study clearly demonstrated that we have roughly 35 hours per week of leisure time. That’s approximately 5 hours per day that is frequently eaten up using the computer, watching television, reading, socializing, playing sports, or just relaxing. Consider for one moment what would happen if 5 of those leisure hours were given back to the church, and 10 were dedicated to family. How much stronger would our families and church families be if we all devoted more time to them? Whether you ever wear the name “deacon,” I expect you to use the time God gives you wisely and fulfill that role of being a busy servant.
God in His infinite wisdom designed an office in the church to help meet the needs of members in the local congregation. The specific qualifications for these men can be found in 1 Timothy 3:8-13. It is my prayer that my sons will long to serve as these special servants. These are men who are charged to take care of the physical welfare of the local congregation, which then allows the elders to focus on the spiritual welfare of the congregation. Consider what happens if elders are so busy worrying about building and grounds maintenance or audio/visual issues that they don’t have time to consider the spiritual welfare of the congregation. In Acts 6 we see an instance where the widows were being neglected. The Twelve called the disciples together and asked them to select “men of good reputation” (vs. 3) who would allow the Apostles to continue studying and praying.
Understand that “deacon” is a description—servant—rather than a title. Far too often men get so caught up with titles and their “area/territory’ that the work never gets done or things get bogged down. Occasionally men will argue over who is supposed to do something or make matters entirely too complex. For instance, in one congregation your mom and I attended, the elders asked the deacons to look into what it would take to create visitor parking places. This request came up several times over a period of a year in men’s business meetings. (They actually formed a committee about it). One Sunday afternoon following yet another business meeting I called the elders and asked if I paid for it out of pocket could I just do it? Two hours and approximately $20 dollars later the task was done.
The office of deacon is a special office of service and one that I hope your heart will desire. Whether you wear the name “deacon” or not, stay busy serving Him.