In pastoring near a seminary, I have noticed an unfortunate disposition especially in young men. Rather than honoring the office of deacon, young men tend to ridicule the office. In fact, many would be insulted if the congregation were to recommend them for such a role of service as opposed to being recommended to the office of elder. Because teaching as an elder is the more up front and onstage leadership of the church, many falsely assume that the office of deacon is a less than junior varsity squad of church service, but that is not how the Bible describes the significance of the office.
The word of God continued to increase and the number of disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem.
After appointing the prototype of deacons in Acts 6, “The word of God continued to increase and the number of disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem.” When these servant leaders were appointed to a particular ministry of service, the whole church operated like well-built machine powered by the Spirit of God for the work of making disciples.
The role and work of a deacon is, therefore, an essential component of the great commission. It is through their service in the local church that the word of God increases and the disciples multiply. The Lord has not given the office of deacon to the local church by accident or as an optional addition. They are essential to the mission of multiplication. They are a gift for pastors who could potentially be overwhelmed with tasks that take away from their ministry of leading, feeding, and protecting the sheep. Likewise, they are a gift for members who desperately need both the faithful teaching of God’s word delivered every week by pastors and avenues of service coordinated and carried out by faithful deacons. It is through faithful deacon ministry that the whole church multiplies.
1 Timothy 3:13
For those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and also great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.
The office of deacon is so essential that the apostle Paul describes their role with language of great honor. It is odd that the apostle Paul would put before deacons a reward such as “good standing for themselves”. Is this not a prideful and dangerous motivator to hold out before potential deacons? Perhaps there is the potential of enticing unqualified men to pursue the office with sinful ambitions, but such a man would soon be found out in the testing that he is “greedy for dishonest gain”. (1 Tim. 3:8) If an individual seeks the office of deacon for sake of recognition, they have disqualified themselves from the office in their seeking. Paul is making a point, however, that this official position of servanthood is honorable in the sight of God and should be honored in the eyes of the church. Though it is functionally different in responsibility and authority, it is not a lesser role than the noble task of pastor. (1 Tim. 3:1) D
Such God-given good standing, honor, and responsibility is humbling. In fact, it is because of a deacon’s lowly willingness to serve rather than be served that they qualify to be model servants for the rest of the congregation. “Whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all.” (Mk. 10:43-44) “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Mk. 14:11) It is safe to say that if any individual demands the title of deacon they are most likely disqualified from the office of deacon. The office is given to those who are already engaged in the work of service without the title, and thus receive the title as a great honor.
In addition to the honor there is also the “great confidence in the faith” that the position brings. While the phrase is somewhat ambiguous, its meaning is no, less than the deepening and strengthening of an individual’s faith who serves well in the office of deacon. There are spiritual rewards that flow from faithful and selfless service as a deacon that renew one’s confidence in the Lord. I believe that this is because of the nature of the deacon’s work. When one pours out their life for the work of the ministry and utilizes their God given gifts for his service, they will find all the more by way of experience their own weakness and, furthermore, God’s strength in and through them. As a deacon sacrificially serves they will find more obviously that the one who serves does so by the strength that God supplies – in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. (1 Pt.4:11)
Deaconing will include many moments where the words of God to the apostle Paul will become a dear promise, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor. 12:9) While serving according to God’s strength, there is the surpassing pleasure of a regularly renewed confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus alone.
For Those Who Serve Well
These rewards are for those who serve well in the office of deacon. To serve well in an office designed by the Lord, you must understand the roles, responsibilities, and qualifications for such an office. Deacons should understand the nature of their office better than anyone else. It is a proper understanding of God’s design and obedience to his command that deacons will accomplish the great commission, gain a good standing, and live in great confidence of faith.
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