Summary: Charge preached at a deacon ordination from Jesus’ teaching on leadership in Matthew 20:25-28
Text: Matt 20:25-28, Title: Charge to the Deacons, Date/Place: NRBC, 9/6/09, PM
A. Opening illustration: A Church called a new pastor at 60 years of age. His first sermon was 15 minutes long. Kinda short but fine for the folks. The next week he preached for 20 minutes. That was Ok, too. But the following week he preached for an hour and 45 minutes. Boy the deacons pulled him off to the side demanding an answer for such an atrocity. He said, "Well, you know that parsonage bathroom is so small and my wife and I were running late this morning and we got mixed up and I accidently put her false teeth in by mistake and once you get those things a goin’ you just can’t get ’em to stop." At the next deacon’s meeting it was recommended to get a bigger bathroom in the parsonage.
B. Background to passage: this is when the mother of James and John came and asked Jesus if he would grant to her children to sit on the right and left. After all of the discussion, the other disciples caught on, and their reaction betrayed their own hearts’ desires to have power and authority. So then Jesus instructs them about real leadership and greatness in His kingdom.
C. Main thought: Tonight we ordain two new deacons, and therefore as a charge to them and a reminder to the congregation at large, we give to them the words of Jesus about leadership.
Charge to the Congregation: My charge to you is that you not lay upon these men a greater burden that is biblically expected of them; all them to carry out the biblical role of deacon without superimposing tradition upon them that will hinder their growth and that of the church; that you pray for them regularly for them to fulfill their duties to their families and to the church at New River; that you support them in every possible way, refusing to lay stumbling blocks of gossip, dissention, worldliness, or busyness in their path. This is still a new day at New River. Look to these men as humble servants of New River and of the poor, downtrodden, widowed, and needful.
Charge to the Existing Deacons: These men, like me, are young, moldable and teachable. This is both a good thing and a bad thing. You have a responsibility to help them serve well. The Pharisees where very mission minded and committed to discipleship, but Jesus warned them that they make their disciples twice the sons of hell as themselves by teaching them all the bad habits which they practiced. We must be careful. You must seize this opportunity to reexamine you perceived role, your practice and example, so that you may train these men biblically. New River has desired a fresh opportunity, a turn around, a season of growth, now is your opportunity, but we must use it wisely. Look and think forward, see in your mind’s eye what New River could be if men like these men were trained to honor the past, but not duplicate it. Support and encourage these men with your prayers, your kind words, your teaching, but most importantly with your example.
A. Deaconate is not about authority (v. 25)
1. Jesus takes the opp to explain that leadership in Jesus’ kingdom is not about authority. The world operates with authority, manipulation, domination, demands, commands, power, and pride. Jesus said that it shall not be among you. Note that the point of his discussion is not that there is no authority, but that it is not wielded in a domineering fashion. He says that we are to operate differently from the world. And in order to serve the church, the church calls, and “sets aside” deacons.
2. Illustration: the catholic rite of ordination of deacons supposedly conveys power, “The self-serving, self-promoting, self-glorying ways of the world are the antithesis of spiritual greatness.” –JM, “God’s great men are not sitting on top of lesser men, but bearing lesser men on their backs.” –commentator RCH Lenski,
3. We are not conferring upon you any special power or authority. Rather we are charging you with a responsibility. I charge you tonight that if you know any motivation that is anything other than pure in heart, loving God, and exalting Christ, please acknowledge this, and deal with it biblically. You are not to manipulate, subvert, malign, command, or demand things from others. You are not to use your status or popularity, charm, flattery, nor attractiveness to achieve your own agenda. You have not been elevated to a higher position, but to a higher plane of responsibility. If you are thanked in any way ever, consider it a gift of God’s grace. And if you are never thanked, consider your service a privilege and an honor all the same. Your reward comes from the Lord.