3 Words of Advice for New Deacons
I had the blessing of growing up as a PK – preacher’s kid. It was a blessing, but also an occasional tough spotlight to live in. The expectations placed on children of preachers is rarely a gray area. At least that was my experience. It seemed my siblings and I were either expected to be perfect little angels – or sons of the Devil. That’s a heavy wrap for any kid to handle, but, by the grace of God my brothers and sister managed to make it to adulthood.
One of the benefits of growing up a PK is seeing the inner workings of a church fellowship that many others never have the opportunity to witness. That can be a good thing, or, it can be, shall we say, enlightening?
One of the enlightening aspects I and my family were intimate witnesses of was trouble. Yep. Believe it or not, there are troubles within a local church. Some serious, some not so much. One thing that I will never forget, looking back on my father’s various pastorates, is the source of most of the troubles. I’m not talking about Satan nor am I specifically addressing sin, although sin is certainly the background of every trouble in churches I witnessed.
Deacons. Yes, deacons. I sit here and recall all the formidable trials and troubles my family faced, the stress it created in our home and all that goes with that. Deacons – and sometimes their wives. Most of the troubles I can remember my father dealing with the most in the church came from deacons and their families.
Now, this is not to shine a poor light on deacons. It is a high privilege to serve as one, with great responsibility and opportunity to serve the local fellowship in love to the glory of God. However, and especially in Baptist circles with a plethora of (sometimes silly) committees and ‘boards’ (who needs them?) there is often times the occasional deacon who, bless his heart, is drunk on power and control. Control of committees, boards, the pastor-teacher – the whole kit-n-kaboodle (how do you spell that?).
Now, having said that, and having been asked for any advice for newly appointed deacons, here’s my advice for those who have either been elected to said position, or, seek to someday occupy the office.
1. God bless you and congratulations. The office you hold is one of two, the other being the pastor-teacher, ordained by God’s Word. It is a high privilege, and may you always remember your priority – serving the Church. Serve the people, the members of your local fellowship first, by getting to know them on a greater, more intimate level than you may already. You can’t serve them if you’re not aware of what’s going on, so get to know the members. Go out of your way to be hospitable. Have families over for supper, go bowling, do something to increase intimacy with those to whom you are being asked to serve. You should be doing this anyway as a member of that church, but as a deacon, it is even more important that you do so. You can’t serve who you don’t know, and if you’re unaware of their needs, you’re pretty much a paper deacon with no practical use to them. Don’t be that.
Another thing. Your duty as a deacon is not summed up as an usher. If public prayer on Sundays, passing the offering plate aisle to aisle and voting in business meetings sums up your activity as a deacon, you’re not one. Maybe on paper, but not before God.
This is not your church. It belongs to Jesus Christ and He is the head. All authority has been given to Him. It’s His Bride, not yours. God has delegated authority to His under-shepherd, the pastor-teacher, to oversee the flock.
You answer to all of them.
God, the pastor-teacher and the fellowship. As a Christian alone, you answer to all, and are accountable to all. You’re serving them, remember, and submission from the heart and visibly as well shows all where your intentions are. Hopefully, your intention is to glorify God the Father and exalt His Son Jesus Christ by evidencing outwardly the work of the Holy Spirit in your life. Which brings me to my next word of advice.
If you’re living like the devil’s cousin, you shouldn’t be a deacon. I know, we’re all human, we’re all at different stages of spiritual growth. Listen, if you’re going to hold the office of deacon, get your act together. Stop making excuses for sins. Repent and stop it. What kind of example are you going to be to the fellowship if people see and hear you are doing and saying things you shouldn’t? As a Christian, you are called into conformity to the image of Christ, and you will get there. But you’ll enjoy the conformity more if you obey God’s Word and stop enjoying the world and it’s lusts.
Get more serious about sanctification. Stop cruising through life. Live, be sanctified, separate from the world. Stick out like a sore thumb to the glory of God and what Christ has wrought in you.
Otherwise, refuse the nomination, or if that’s already been accepted, step down, for the good of the fellowship, that the glorious name of Jesus Christ not be dragged through the mud of the world, and you bring shame to your local church, your pastor-teacher, and to your own family.
- What Is A Baptist? (5ptsalt.com)