But as the believers rapidly multiplied, there were rumblings of discontent. The Greek-speaking believers complained about the Hebrew-speaking believers, saying that their widows were being discriminated against in the daily distribution of food. So the Twelve called a meeting of all the believers. They said, “We apostles should spend our time teaching the word of God, not running a food program. And so, brothers, select seven men who are well respected and are full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will give them this responsibility. Then we apostles can spend our time in prayer and teaching the word.” Everyone liked this idea, and they chose the following: Stephen (a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit), Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas of Antioch (an earlier convert to the Jewish faith). These seven were presented to the apostles, who prayed for them as they laid their hands on them. Acts of the Apostles 6:1-6
I’m not sure what that means to you, but it speaks VOLUMES to me!!! I grew up in a church that was very traditional and rules based, and the leaders of the church, the deacons and elders, were like some religious elite circle and very set apart. You couldn’t help but feel inferior to them. Like they were nobler than the rest of the members. It was very uncomfortable and intimidating to be around most of them. I felt they only wore the title for distinction and not the purpose that I would later realize it was intended, to care for those in need.
I say all that to explain why this passage was so eye opening for me when I first read it in new light, 10 years ago, after leaving that church and their beliefs. I had a COMPLETELY warped understanding of what it meant to be a deacon or leader in the church. I used to think to be that kind of leader in the church meant you had to have deep pockets, a haughty eye, critical words and a judgmental attitude. It certainly wasn’t anyone I aspired to be like. Now, I actually “get” it and am so very thankful that I do. Arrogant and honorable are NOT the same, and neither is the title verses the responsibility.
I’m also reminded how my pastor, tells us constantly that WE ARE THE DEACONS. As believers who are strongly rooted in our Christian faith, we are the hands and feet of Jesus; WE are the honorable men and women of the church who are to look after and take care of those in need in our church and community. We’re God’s representatives!!!! And we’re not only encouraged to walk confidently in that calling of leadership in our lives, but our church trains us on how and gives us opportunities to do so! This very thing has changed my life. Discovering I’m a leader and was created with a purpose and to now walk in it to be a blessing to others for the glory of the Father! I can hardly contain my excitement when I think about it! It makes my spirit want to joyously burst out of my skin!
Our church calls it the Dream Team. It’s a wide variety of serving opportunities that are all equally important, anywhere from leading small groups ministering to members of the church (which I do), to rocking babies in the nursery so the parents can go worship the Lord and hear a message with their full attention. Every summer, our church, along with countless other churches who team up with them, host a community SERVE Day outreach. Across the state you will witness a sea of red SERVE shirts combing the communities, serving in all different capacities to those in need. It’s INCREDIBLE to experience and be part of; to be the deacons!
This is a video of what that looks like.
I’ve had the privilege to serve in every outreach they’ve had, but one in particular SERVE Day stands out to me. It was a crazy hot summer and with our church we went into one of the broken neighborhoods of Woodlawn handing out water and box fans to the residents and prayed with every single one before we left them. One particular family lived in a home that had broken windows, no front door, the 6 kids there were barefoot and in dirty clothes, their aunt and mother were sitting in their car crying out to God over the murder of their brother that happened the night before; drinking to numb their pain. They had just finished saying, “God, if you’re there and even care, then show us!” Not 2 minutes later, we had walked up to offer them the water and fan and asked if we could pray with them. These women gave their lives to Christ that day, in that moment, because we were being the deacons.
~ ~ ~
Heather Whidden loves Jesus, is married to her best friend and is mother of 3 blessings. She is a professional photographer and has a heart for ministry. She loves spending time with her family and friends, writing, reading, and traveling. Time and people is what she values most. You can read more about her here.