Deacons have been some of my best friends in ministry. Sure, some have been difficult. I’m sure some of them thought the same thing about working with me. For the most part, deacons with whom I worked showed a deep desire to serve the Lord and His church.
Through all my 65+ years in ministry, I have made some lasting friends with deacons. In this article, I want to share about some of them—the relationship I had with them, the things that drove them to minister as deacons, and conclude with a summary of the characteristics that I believe make for great deacons.
In my early years of ministry, I did not have a primary responsibility of working with deacons; but even then, many of them became good friends and impacted my life by the way they lived and served. In later years of church ministry, I had some major responsibilities of working with deacons. As a convention employee, I had the privilege of leading deacon seminars and retreats.
I am very grateful for the privilege of sharing about these men and their ministry. I have used first names only.
In one of the first churches I served, Kelly, his wife, and family became good friends to my wife and me. They invited us to their home almost every Sunday to eat and spend the afternoon with them.
Kelly was a deacon that supported his pastor and staff. He loved the church and would do anything to help the church succeed in ministry. He was a most humble man and wanted no attention drawn to him. He wanted God to be honored and his church to serve and minister to the community.
In the second church where I served full time, Clifford took a great interest in me and my family. He was very supportive and helpful in every way possible when called upon to minister in the community.
Clifford had some land on which he raised cattle. He allowed me the privilege of riding his horse and checking the fences to make sure the cattle were not escaping. My childhood dream was to be a cowboy. Clifford made it possible for me to have that dream fulfilled for a short time. He was a real friend. He was also a great servant of God.
Doc Lawrence was a dentist and served the church with his time and talents. He loved to sing. He gave sacrificially to the Lord through the church. He was a true servant. He loved God; and he loved His church. He ministered to people in various ways. He was very supportive of the pastor and staff.
Norman was a deacon who believed that one of his responsibilities was to help the fellowship of the church remain united. On more than one occasion, he would speak to a church member who was complaining about the church and pastor. He made sure they knew this was unacceptable behavior. That was the end of the complaining.
In addition, Norman was a leader of a major service company in the city where we lived. He became a mentor to me in leadership. I learned from just watching him and talking to him on many occasions. Norman was totally committed to his pastor and staff. He was committed to His church. He was truly a servant deacon.
While serving Arkansas churches through the Arkansas Baptist State Convention, I had the privilege of serving seven churches as an intentional interim minister. I was working part-time with the ABSC during this time. As an interim pastor, I had the privilege of working with deacons in each of these churches.
Ralph was the chairman of deacons when I served the church in which he was a member. We met monthly to talk about the church and to plan the monthly meeting of deacons. The first time I met with Ralph, I concluded he was a true servant of God. He wanted the church to be involved in reaching and discipling new Christians. He did his best to know all about the ministries of the church. He also was a special friend to me and other staff members. Of all the deacons with which I served, perhaps Ralph had the greatest heart for the church and its staff. He is a great man of God.
As I think about these men and the service they gave to God and His church, I think I can summarize the characteristics that made these men great. These characteristics are as follows:
- Loving God supremely.
- Loving God’s church with all their hearts.
- Servant heart
- Supporting their pastor and staff.
- Taking a personal interest in pastor and staff.
I know that these men were not perfect. They were Christian men who had been called to a special ministry of serving God and His church as deacons. They excelled in their role.
My prayer is that the testimony of these men might be used to encourage and challenge those who are called to be deacons in our churches today. You have a great ministry. You have a great God. Give Him and the church you serve your very best!