What is a Deacon?

justice-and-mercy-300x225Recently, I introduced someone from my church to another person and stated that she was a deacon. The next thing out of the person’s mouth who I was introducing the deacon to was to ask the question “What is a deacon?” To be honest, I’d never heard that question. I didn’t really know about deacons until I was in high school. I didn’t know that officers of the church existed until I got involved in a church while in high school and into my college years. But I had never asked that question: What is a deacon?

My response: A deacon is a person in the church set aside and recognized by the leadership of the church that they have the gifts of doing acts of mercy.

But is that truly a deacon? Too many times the deacons have been relegated to young junior men who are sometimes seen as elders in training (elders are people in the church who are set aside to guide the church spiritually). Sometime down the road, the role of deacon was downsized to taking care of the church property and the budget.

But that’s not what a deacon is. A deacon is set aside to do acts of mercy and compassion. In Acts 6, the apostles and leaders of the fledgling church were being hard press to take care of the new Christian widows. And they were hearing arguments about who was being tended to more than others. So the leadership decided to choose 7 Godly men to tend to the welfare of the widows. They were called deacons. The word deacon in Greek is that of a waiter or server at a restaurant. They are servants. They are servants in the Lord. And their role in the church is to do acts of mercy not mow the lawn and balance the budget each year.

So what is a deacon? How can deacons truly be used in the church today? There is the struggle to get past the idea of deacons just doing mundane things. They are in charge of showing the love and compassion of Christ to those who are in need physically. They are in charge of distributing the benevolence of the church. They are to make sure that justice is being done to those who are in need and impoverished. They are to make sure that those inside the church are being tended to physically. They are to be there for those outside the church and offering the mercy and compassion of Christ to those in need.

The problem is, is that we sometimes forget that there are those who are gifted in acts of mercy. We forget that those who are called to be deacons aren’t just a warm body who’s a young man  just over the age 21. A deacon is an agent of mercy. A deacon is one who lives and breathes mercy and justice.

What does this mercy and justice look like? Just as I mentioned before, they are to make sure that those who are in need are tended to. But more than that, they are to be willing to stand firm and fight for those who are in need. To be willing to alleviate the pains of poverty. They are to feed the hungry. Clothe the naked. They are set aside, recognized for their gifts to be the ones who act out what God has called us to do–act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with our God (Micah 6:8).

So, are you called to be a deacon? A deacon isn’t a lowly job. It’s a tough one. It’s a tough role to fill. And you have to be gifted in this area. Are you called to be a deacon? Don’t take the call lightly.

Hear the call to be a deacon and do acts of mercy and justice for God, for Christ, in the church and outside of the church. It’s a tough job to do, a tough role to fill, but with the right gifts from God, it’s something amazing that is being done in the church for those who are in need of the loving grace of God that is shown through these acts of mercy and justice.

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