In a lot of churches, deacons get a bad rap. If they do too much, then people believe they’re trying to take over the church. If they do too little, then people call them lazy. Just about every pastor has a bad deacon story. Indeed, I’ve got a couple myself from a previous church.
I hear and read a lot about controlling deacons and apathetic deacons. The reality is most deacons in most churches do good work. While churches and denominations have varying viewpoints on the role of deacons due to polity differences, what should be universal is how pastors place a high value on deacons who serve well.
The deacon body at West Bradenton is among the best. They serve. They sacrifice. They give. They have the backs of the pastors. And when called upon at VBS, they get slimed.
Pastors, cherish your supportive deacons. Encourage them. Brag on them. I don’t often come across posts from pastors praising their deacons. That’s why I’m writing this one. My deacons are not just the “other office of the church;” they are people with whom I entrust the most sensitive and critical parts of ministry within our congregation. Here are some of the deacons every pastor should love.
Friend. Pastors need friends, not only other pastor peers from outside the church, but also friends within the church. Since pastors and deacons serve closely together, at least a few deacons should be close friends with pastors. I had one deacon recently sit down in my office unannounced. He knew I was in the middle of a difficult situation involving church discipline. He said, “Let’s talk baseball.” It was much needed.
Prayer warrior. You don’t always know who the prayer warriors are in your church. Often, they pray alone because they don’t want to be known. When a deacon is a prayer warrior for a pastor, a special bond is formed. Praying deacons are one of the biggest reasons why pastors stay within God’s will. The spiritual battle waging around prayer warriors is silent but intense. Many deacons are on the front lines.
Accountability partner. Any deacon at West Bradenton has the right to ask me about any part of my life at any time. Every year I give the chairman of deacons my tax return, not because he demands it (he doesn’t), but rather because I want every area of my life to be above reproach.
Confidant. A couple of deacons are not only my friends but also my confidants. I share with them ministry burdens I may not even share with my wife. I understand the high level of trust that must be in place for this kind of relationship. I wish more pastors and deacons were confidants.
Mentor. We have some valiant old men who serve on our deacon body. They move more slowly now, but their mindset is still fierce. They can wield power with one short sentence—not because of manipulation but rather because of wisdom. When they speak, an entire room shuts up. These are the men I seek out to be my mentors. The deacon who has served for sixty years and not stopped, the deacon who has remained married for sixty years and not fallen, the deacon who has served with multiple pastors but stuck with one church—that is the man I want as a mentor.
The friend, the prayer warrior, the accountability partner, the confidant, and the mentor—these are the deacons every pastor should love.