Servant Leaders (part 2 – Deacons)

(Text: 1 Timothy 3:8-13)

There are two leadership offices for the church that the New Testament identifies: elders (pastors) and deacons.

A pastors’ primary responsibility is the ministry of the word and prayer (Acts 6:4). He must preach and teach the word, and he must pray for the church. That’s not all he does, but these two things must be guarded and not neglected.

Since there are many other tasks needed in the church beyond teaching and praying, the pastors need help from other godly men. That’s where the deacon comes in. A deacon’s actual job is to help the pastors care for the people in whatever way needed so that the physical and spiritual needs of the church are met.

Paul is writing to Timothy who is helping the Ephesian church weed out false teachers and install godly men in these leadership positions. Today’s text deals with qualifications of the deacon.

1. A Deacon’s Character  (1 Timothy 3:8-10)

dignified – That means they live in a way that is worthy of respect and honor. They have a good reputation in and out of the church.

not double-tongued – His “yes” means “yes”. He is a man of integrity, a man of his word.

not addicted to much wine –  Free from enslaving excesses – no matter the chemical or the habit – that would tarnish his testimony or would set a bad example for other Christians.

not greed for dishonest gain – Because a deacon will often be the one handling money – whether that’s money given to the church, or benevolence being given out to those in need – he must be trustworthy.

hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience – He lives a life that reflects who Jesus is and what Jesus teaches.

let them also be tested first – A man who desires to be a deacon cannot appoint himself. He must step forward, let a pastor know his desire to be a deacon, and submit himself to observation, to evaluation, and to training.

2. A Deacon’s Wife  (1 Timothy 3:11-12)

dignified – same as her husband. She must be a woman of integrity and of a good reputation with others.

-not slanderers The NIV says “malicious talkers”. It’s interesting to note that very phrase is translated as the English word “devil”. When we slander, when we speak ill of others, when we gossip – sharing damaging information with others who are not part of the problem or the solution, we are actually doing the work of the devil, the accuser of the brethren. So it’s important that a deacon’s wife be trustworthy to keep a confidence, and to only speak to others and about others in a way that builds up and ministers grace.

-sober-minded – She must not be mentally or emotionally unstable. She should be a woman who is clear-minded, steady in her faith, able to trust in Christ for her own issues and able to help others do the same.

-faithful in all things – This does not mean perfection. Instead this is a beautiful description of a woman who is trusting in Jesus, growing in the gospel, and faithfully loving her husband and serving alongside him.

[12] Let deacons each be the husband of one wife, managing their children and their own households well. This is the same for pastors or deacons. For any leadership position in the church, the spiritual condition of a man’s home is his first priority, and it is the most honest assessment of his leadership.

3. A Deacon’s Reward  (1 Timothy 3:13)

What an amazing promise and encouragement! The deacons, those humble servants who help the pastors care for God’s church, for those who serve well – who serve faithfully – they are promised two things:

– “They gain good standing for themselves.” That means deacons who serve well will rightfully receive honor and appreciation from those they serve. That doesn’t mean ministry is easy or always appreciated. Sometimes it’s not. But it means faithful ministry is deeply, deeply rewarding. And part of that reward is to see those you serve grow closer to Christ and reflect Him more in their lives.

-And secondly, deacons who serve well are promised “great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus”. Now, we know that does not mean their works of ministry earn God’s love. We can never earn that. But the man who spends his life serving God’s people humbly and selflessly and faithfully can be assured that their lives honor and glorify God.

Those men can be assured that this is an evidence of genuine faith, when a man who has been changed by the gospel has shown His love for Christ by serving those for whom Christ died. The love they have received from Jesus, they gave to others. The blessings they enjoyed, they shared with others. They didn’t spend their lives consumed with their own comforts and desires. But they followed their Savior, laying down their lives by serving God’s people.

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