Summary: The church must be self-perpetuating, so it is important for young people to know what is expected of them in the church.

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June 29, 2003

Morning Service

Text: 1 Timothy 3:8-13

Subject: Christian Leadership

Title: Stepping Up to the Plate

I have been a Cardinal baseball fan all my life. I like other sports as well but there is something about Cardinal baseball that makes all the others pale in comparison. When I look back at all the baseball greats that have gone through the cardinal baseball system it is just mind-boggling. And to think that I have had the opportunity to see some of the greatest players that have or probably ever will play the game, well it’s just too much to fathom.

I stop and think of all the world series teams in my lifetime and the great players - Stan Musial (I saw him before he retired, Lou Brock, Bob Gibson, Red Shoendeist, Roger Maris from the 1964 world series champs – then Gibson, Brock, Steve Carlton, Mike Shannon, in ’67 &’68. Then there were the teams in the 80’s with Ozzie Smith, Willie Magee, Vince Coleman and even more recently those great teams that were anchored by Mark McGuire.

I stop and think, “What makes the Cardinals so special?” Well, they are from the Midwest. Their Broadcast network is one of the largest in the nation. But what really makes them great is that when one great player steps aside, there is always another who has been in training who is ready to step up to the plate and be a hero.

I’m not going to go on all day talking about baseball (tough I probably could) but I just wanted to get you headed in the right direction with your thought process. What I’m really going to talk about today the church, particularly, this church. What is it that makes a church great? Is it the preaching? Is it the programs? Is it the worship? The answer to all these is a resounding no! What makes a church great is that it is self-perpetuating. In other words there is always someone ready to step up to the plate and take over where those who have gone before have left off.

Today we are going to look at the deacons in the church. The word that is translated deacons in the Greek is diakonos, and it literally means “servant”. What makes the church great? It is people who are willing to be servants to do the work of ministry. Am I talking about the group of men who are elected to serve on a board to run the church? Yes, but the word is not relegated to them alone. It covers every one of you since everyone has been given spiritual gifts to use to build up the church.

Paul writes to Timothy to give him the requirements for one who desires to be a servant. I want to reiterate that these are guidelines by which all Christians should be living their lives. Listen carefully for what you hear today could impact you for the rest of your life.

I. The character of a deacon is tested. (Verses 8-10)

A. First of all, a person’s spiritual character must be tested. “A deacon must be reverent.” This word “reverent” refers to someone whose behavior is dignified, or honorable, worthy of respect. Leaders in the church should display character that commands respect. A deacon is revered because he strives to live a life worthy of the calling to which he is called.

B. Next, a person’s social character is tested. A deacon is not to be double-tongued. The idea here is saying something twice with the negative thought of saying one thing to appease one person and then something else to please another. Jesus said, “Let your ‘yes’ be ‘yes’ and your ‘no’ ‘no’. For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.” In other words, you need to be in a position that people know that what you say is what you mean and you stick to it. Saying one thing and doing the opposite will do more to damage your image with others than anything else ever could. Why do you think that these things are looked at in the selection of deacons? As a church we must be careful that those who represent us, and ultimately Christ, to the world, must live above reproach.

C. Servants must have moral character. “Not given to much wine or greedy for money”. A member of Alcoholics Anonymous once sent columnist Ann Landers the following: We drank for happiness and became unhappy.

We drank for joy and became miserable.

We drank for sociability and became argumentative.

We drank for sophistication and became obnoxious.

We drank for friendship and made enemies.

We drank for sleep and awakened without rest.

We drank for strength and felt weak.

We drank "medicinally" and acquired health problems.

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