Summary: A Deacon ordination message. Character and spirituality are the essential indicators in the selection of church leaders. They are to lead through their service to God, His ministers, and His local church.
QUALIFICATIONS FOR SERVANT-LEADERSHIP
During local, state, and national election campaigns, voters are barraged by the claims of candidates who attempt to convince the electorate that they are the most qualified to be president, senator, legislator, governor, mayor, councilman, or some other public official. Campaign rhetoric can be brutal. Unfortunately, the winner isn’t always the most qualified person. The advantage often goes to the one with the best "media image."
The scene should be very different in a fellowship of believers who are selecting church leaders. Politicking, boasting, power games, and popularity contests have no place in the church. Most of the qualifications for overseer and deacon involve character, not knowledge or skill. Personal character and spirituality should be the key issues for the selection of leaders. When God calls men to serve His church, He looks for those whose hearts are right with Him. The important thing is not personality or demeanor, but spirituality. God’s concern is not talent, wealth, power, or experience but moral and spiritual virtue.
The requirements are more extensive for elders (3:1-7) than for deacons but the similarities between them are great. Though these qualifications are specific for determining who should serve as a deacon they are also excellent guidelines for all Christians.
I. A DEACON’S LIFE, 8-10.
II. A DEACON’S FAMILY, 11-12.
III. A DEACON’S REWARDS (13).
The list of responsibilities for one who would serve the church of the Living God begins in verse 8. "Deacons likewise must be men of dignity, not double-tongued, or addicted to much wine or fond of sordid gain, ..."
The New Testament gives two offices to the church and they are both listed here in First Timothy chapter 3. Like overseers, deacons must also be men of quality, even though their function in the congregation is significantly different. The word deacon is transliterated from the Greek word diakonos, which means a "humble servant." The first deacons were appointed to be assistants to the Apostles (Acts 6:2,4). In the local church today deacons still relieve their pastors of other tasks so that they may concentrate on the ministry of the Word, prayer, and spiritual oversight as God directed (Acts 6:2-5).
Even though deacons are not given the authority of elders or pastors, they are servant leaders in the church and thus must meet certain though less stringent qualifications. The first God-given stipulation is that they must be men of dignity. A deacon should be worthy of respect. His Christian character must be worth imitating. A deacon should take his responsibilities seriously and serve, not just fill, the office.
He is not to be double tongued. A deacon speaks with integrity, consistency, and grace. He does not tell tales from one person to another. He is not a gossip. You can depend on what he says because he is honest not hypocritical. A deacon does not spread speculation nor does he misuse truth. He is called to put an end to discord by protecting the mission and leadership of the church. He is to be reliable, not two-faced, but one who keeps his promises.
Like a pastor they are not to be addicted to much wine. Jewish people drank a weak wine because of water contamination problems. Deacons though were to be cautious of even the non-potent drink of their day. How much more so with the potent refined alcohol of today. FBC has an abstinence policy.
They are not to be fond of sordid gain. The priorities of a deacon are not to be centered on the accumulation of worldly wealth. He must illustrate the priority of laying up treasures in heaven (Mt. 6:19-24). In his financial dealings, whether personal or business, he cannot be one who uses unethical or questionable tactics to make money.
Verse 9 points out a deacon’s firm faith. "...but holding to the mystery of faith with a clear conscience." The great doctrines of Christianity are mysteries or hidden to those outside the faith, but are understood by those who trust Jesus. Deacons must understand Christian doctrine and obey it with a good conscience. They must base their decisions and life on the Word of God. A deacon who does not know and live the Word of God cannot properly manage the affairs of the church.
The men are to be tested by life and the church, as verse 10 indicates. "These men must also first be tested; then let them serve as deacons if they are beyond reproach."
These men must first prove their quality over time in the ordinary activities of life and ministry. Before men are accepted as deacons they need to prove themselves before the community and the church. These men are to be evaluated on their life of as a servant and on their knowledge of the Word. If proven irreproachable or free from accusation they are ready to serve. Christ-like conduct or a blameless reputation is required from all deacons.