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Deacons: Unsung Stars in God's Show!

Way back in 1979, Star Bible Publications, Inc., published a booklet written by Texas preacher Charles Hodge entitled, God's Deacons. In the first chapter of the booklet ("Deacons Are No Joke") Brother Hodge wrote these attention-arresting words about "deacons" — "Brethren are taught to love elders but not deacons. . . . Mothers want their boys to grow up to become preachers and elders but not deacons . . . Have you ever heard anyone say, 'The goal of my life is to be a great deacon?' Any man too big to be a deacon is too little to be an elder! . . .Why don't more deacons become elders? By the way, why don't more deacons become deacons?" Not to be overly negative, but I think one reason why is found in the very definition of the word "deacon." The Greek word translated "deacon" is diakonos (pronounced dee-ak'-on-os). The word occurs some 30 times in the New Testament. It is often translated "servant" or "minister" and can apply to Christians in general or to gospel teachers. Strong's Concordance defines "deacon" as "an attendant, i.e. a waiter (at table or in other menial duties); deacon, minister, servant." To reiterate, the word diakonos (deacon) applies to all Christians. Every disciple who takes Jesus seriously must move past simply flopping down on a pew and learn instead to flesh out the attitude Jesus taught with His life and His lips —"For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many" (Mark 10:45). By the way, these words were spoken after James and John came to Jesus and demanded, "do for us whatever we ask" (verse 35). These days, many people choose a church based on what it will "do for us." But any church that truly seeks to follow Jesus and mold others into His likeness will teach and challenge its members to "do for others."

Now, back to men the New Testament calls "deacons." Five verses translate diakonos as "deacon" in recognition of a select group of servants who serve the church and assist the elders under their oversight.  They are Philippians 1:1 and 1 Timothy 3:8,10,12,13. Note especially 1 Timothy 3:10 and 12 — "But let these also first be tested; then let them serve as deacons, being found blameless... For those who have served well as deacons obtain for themselves a good standing and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus." These two verses get to the heart of the deacons' role in the church — serving! Serving well! Decades ago I heard the late G. P. Holt say in a sermon: "You don have to be a star to be in God's show!" Real deacons are the church's unsung heroes. They are men of rock-solid faith in God and sterling Christian character. They have proven that they know how to live the Christian life at home, on the job, in the community, and at church. They have gained the respect of the elders and the church as men who, when asked to do a job, will not only get it done but do it well. They seek, not to be show-stopping stars or celebrities, but men who want to follow in the footsteps of the One who said, "I am among you as the One who serves" (Luke 22:27). The reward that motivates deacons is a good standing with God, even if their service is often unsung. The church waits. Who is able and willing to serve?

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ