Summary: Used at the ordination of Warren Kellum as deacon of our church.
The word “deacon” means servant. Nothing fancy. Nothing extra-ordinary. A deacon is a servant. Now believe it or not, that can lead to some confusion. Because when a group of people calls someone to be their servant, they begin to take the attitude that while the servant serves, they are to sit and be served. Wrong. Time and time again the Scriptures point out to us that every believer is a minister and has a job (or two) to do. Some churches have done away with deacons because they understand that everyone is called to serve in some capacity. So the question is, why have a special title for these servants? What makes them deacons, and what makes a deacon special?
All of us are called to be servants. Those who are called to be deacons are not held to a higher standard than the rest of us, for all of us are held to the standard of Jesus Christ and His righteousness and holiness. Deacons are not held to a higher standard, but they are placing themselves in a position of higher responsibility and accountability before God. I realized that I have a rule in my house, “No dumping apple juice on the floor.” I did not realize it was a rule until this week when my ten-month old daughter poured some on the living room carpet. Then later she did it again. Now while I told her, “No” and moved her from the situation, I can honestly say if my four year old had done the same thing the consequences would have been much more severe. The reason is not that the rules are different for my kids, but the expectations are different. Deacons, the expectations on you are high, for as you know more, more is required of you.
Often times when preachers preach an ordination message for new deacons, they use the text of 1 Timothy 3 and go over the qualifications of deacons. There is a problem with this, however, in that those qualifications are a list for the church to chose deacons. Being that you have already been chosen, it is too late! No, the benefit for you is to know that the church sees these qualities in you. I am not going to ask you to strive to match the qualities in 1 Timothy 3, but to continue to demonstrate those qualities. Today, I want you to see a different list of qualifications. I want us to turn to Acts 6 to see when the first deacons were chosen for the church. As we read this, answer two questions. Why were deacons chosen, and why were these men chosen?
(Read Acts 6:1-4) Why were deacons chosen? They were chosen because there were complaints in the church. Sounds like something straight out of today, doesn’t it? If we had perfect churches, with only perfect people, we would not need deacons. Deacons were called because there was a problem. They were called to a specific task. They were not just called and then a job was given to them later. No! A problem arose, then people were found to fix the problem.
Let me tell you something about Warren Kellum today. Last year he came to me and said we needed to talk. Now that always makes me nervous because you never know what will happen next as a pastor. Well, we weren’t able to get together before he had to leave the state because of our schedules. Well, then he liked it down south so much that he checked into the hospital for a couple of months. When he got back he sought me out and said, “I still need to speak with you.” Over lunch, he said to me, I have noticed that we have a problem at New Friendship, and I believe God has said I need to be the answer. We then began working together at putting together a comprehensive outreach program. This was before we asked him to be a deacon. Deacons are called to serve the church in areas where there may be problems.
But now we must note why these men were chosen. They were chosen because they possessed three qualifications. Now if you are reading out of the NIV, you will not see the first of these qualifications. It says the men were of “good repute.” The first part of being a deacon is having a good reputation. Deacons must have a good name. The best thing that a man can have, is a respected name. A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold. Proverbs 22:1 (ESV). This is backwards from what we learn in our society. Our culture tells us that we men are to work hard to provide all the great luxuries for our family. They teach us that our children should have more than we had when we grew up. We hear statements such as the ends justify the means. The Bible teaches us to work hard to make a good name, and not to worry about money.