A while back I spoke at a men's retreat in our great state of Washington. We had about 40 brothers up on that mountain when I began to speak to them about church leadership. At the beginning of my first message I asked how many of them aspired to be used by God as a deacon in their church. Paul tells us in 1st Timothy that if we aspire to be used as a servant leader in the church, we aspire a NOBLE task. Of course Paul is not talking about a carnal, worldly aspiration for church domination. No, he's addressing the high calling of serving, feeding, and tending the precious bride of Christ, Christ's own body. Deacons are task oriented, filled with the Spirit to wait on tables and deliver food (among other things). Mind you, I wasn't asking how many aspired to be a pastor or bishop or elder. Believe it or not, my question to the men yielded one response. One single man out of 40 aspired to be a servant leader in the house of God! I was shocked.
It goes without saying that when I was asking the men about being a deacon I was referring to the true function of a deacon and not merely the title associated with the role. Being a true deacon isn't about the title, it's about teaching Sunday school to five year olds, sweeping the church, and attending prayer meetings. I like what Pastor Chuck Smith says about deacons: "It is my belief that everyone should be a deacon. The ministry of helps was the essence of the deacon’s function. They were to look after the facilities. They were to look after the needs of the congregation and help the sick." Right on!!!
Most guys don't want to look like a big shot in a large group and declare publicly their future deaconship. These were all good men who were up on a mountain to grow in their relationship with Jesus. I truly believed that all of them were deacon material and I would have to find a way to get through to them. It was at that point in my message that I realized I had to switch gears and either communicate like their pastor buddy and hug it out (check out that photo), or I had to say a few things to wake them up to the reality of what they were dealing with. These men needed to be graciously challenged. I figured they were trapped on the mountain with me, so I was going to exhort as many of them as would listen. I determined to teach like I would never get another invitation back as a retreat speaker ... and it turned out to be a phenomenal weekend.
I will share with you what I shared with them in my next post.