There are those who cheat when it comes to their qualifications! You have heard the saying … “The wheel turns” or “What goes around comes around.” It’s true! Many who have cheated with their qualifications are caught out and if they are not in this life, they will at the Judgment Day.
You have heard of those who cheated on their Grade 12 (Matric) certificate; with a degree from one or the other university or a doctorate they are supposed to have. On the 9th December 2021, Times Live reported the following … “A man who applied for a job as a municipal manager in the Free State Province has been arrested for allegedly submitting a fake qualification for the position.” He appeared in court and is charged with fraud. During the shortlisting process, it was found that the qualification he submitted was fraudulent. Times Live also reported that a qualification verification process by the Zululand District Municipality in Kwa-Zulu Natal revealed that five senior managers were not qualified for their jobs, whilst a further two did not have any post-matric qualifications.
We have established that there are fake Church Leaders and there are genuine ones that God the Holy Spirit appoints. Now we need to confirm their specific qualifications. We have already seen what a Christian ought to be and from the Body of the Church, suitable men to fill the offices of Deacon and Elder need to be appointed. So what would be their qualifications?
1) Of these two categories, deacon and elder, there are differences. Both need to be men who have a track record within the Church, their home, career and society of being decidedly Gospel. This does not mean they need to be loved by every environment because we know that in society and at work many will hate and detest believers. However, their behavior must reflect the integrity that comes with the Gospel. Both the offices, Deacon and Elder are spiritual and require spiritual people to fulfil them.
2) The office of Deacon. True, the Acts 14 passage does not speak of Deacons and we have considered this office before when dealing with Acts chapter 6, but let’s get specific.
1Ti 3:8 Deacons, likewise, are to be men worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain. 9 They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience. 10 They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons. 11 In the same way, their wives are to be women worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything. 12 A deacon must be the husband of but one wife and must manage his children and his household well. 13 Those who have served well gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus.
(1) A deacon waits on tables (Acts 6). He is a servant or a minister. By this we mean he will fulfil roles that would be more practical and not spiritual. True, all ministry is spiritual, but caring for the maintenance of the buildings, the up keep of the grounds, the laying out of furniture to be used for a gathering, the finances, the music, ushering, décor, refreshments and a host of other ministries that are not specifically classed as “Word Ministries”. Some of these functions could be fulfilled by ladies who would report to a deacon. Look at their specific qualifications …
(a) Likewise … refers to the previous section that relates to elders. We shall get to verses 1 to 7 … the sentiment of these needs to be within the deacon.
(b) Worthy of respect. Should a deacon not be respected by the Body, he will not receive the support and assistance to do the work required. Dignity comes in here. Personal dignity is vital, not because of self-worth, but because of “God-worth”. Because God is worthy and because the deacon is in Christ, he needs to display God-worth and value to all. This means we respect the deacon because of whom he is in Christ. He serves Jesus in all he does and as people see him in action, they respect Jesus and respect him serving Jesus.
(c) Being sincere is interesting because it is associated with the tongue! The sincere deacon is not “doubled-tongued”. He does not speak different things to different people. I heard of a preacher who would first determine what the congregation he was to preach to, believed theologically, and then he would give them what they wanted. If the congregation was reformed, it would be a Calvinistic sermon. If the congregation believed in man’s free will to decide his eternal outcome he would preach an Arminian sermon. That is insincere … doubled-tongued. Such a person lacks integrity and will inevitably cause division in the Church.
(d) Not indulging in much wine. Nowhere in the Bible does it say a Christian may not use alcohol, though it does call for moderation. Why would Paul write under inspiration:
Eph 5:18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery … Instead, be filled with the Spirit
Excessive alcohol disturbs the mind causing a behavior that is not Gospel. In other words … with the greatest reverence … get your kicks out of being indwelt by God’s Spirit who is holy, not out of consuming large quantities of alcohol (or drugs) that cause you to lose your mind. Personally I would prefer Church Leaders to avoid alcohol … but that is personal. The Bible does not say that though … it calls for moderation! Imagine a deacon being drunk doing his ministry?
(e) Not pursuing dishonest gain. Where this clause includes not using the proceeds (money) and resources of the Church for personal benefit, it would include being in the office for the Glory of God and not personal advancement. An example would be “networking” amongst the members to score business deals.
(f) Keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience. This is why a deacon needs to be a seasoned, tested believer. How often have we failed:
1Ti 5:22 Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands
A deacon must know who he is, what he believes and what Jesus has done for him and will be doing for those he serves.
(g) They must first be tested. This implies the Church needs to know them inside and outside the Church. They need to be watched and monitored … this includes the spiritual condition as well as the practical environment of service. Bad leaders come from bad choices … and that is our fault as Church Members. Once they pass the test … use them!
Our Father, help us to be extra cautious when selecting and appointing deacons to fulfil ministries. May we be people of prayer and integrity seeking men of prayer and integrity to serve You as they serve us. Amen.