“Would you pray about being recommended to be a deacon in our church?” I was asked about a year ago after I returned from my pilgrimage across Spain seeking God’s guidance for my life.
See, I had just sent my firstborn off to college. (Yes, she’s only 2 miles from my house, but the reality of entering a new stage of life had my head and heart spinning!) My role as a mom was changing. What does this have to do with considering being a deacon? It has to do with following God’s call on my life.
As I trudged many miles through beautiful Spain, I wondered if my boys would be ok without me back home. I wondered if my new first-year college student would need me. I wondered if I was a bad, selfish mom for leaving them or if they would even miss me.
Walking daily with a huge pack of everything you own to an unknown destination lends itself to lots of thinking time: pondering the past, imagining the future, being grateful for the present. I had knowingly walked the past 20 years with God as my Savior and I knew that He had seen me through many valleys and mountain tops. I experienced the beauty of beholding my babies for the first time; the love and honor my husband and I shared through the best and worst times of life; the ability to lovingly caress my mother’s hands and feet in her dying hours. God had been present in it all, holding me and carrying me when I could not walk any further.
What would happen when I returned home? Surely there would be such joy being back home with my sweet family, sleeping in my own bed, wearing truly fresh dry clothes, and drinking water I had no doubt was safe! But I asked God as I walked to show me how he could use me to bring him honor and glory. I continued walking with my eyes open to the possibilities of what God would do with my life.
Oh how I thought through my life and where it was going.
Step by step…
But this post began with a question: “Would you consider being recommended to be a deacon?” I had wondered what God had been planning/preparing me to do while I was walking, so I asked “What do deacons do?” I received the overall outline of deacon responsibilities, but then I found out when I followed God’s leading that it is so much more. What a blessing it has been to me!
Deacons have the privilege of entering into people’s lives. They offer support in times of need by organizing meals and rides and giving a listening ear or shoulder to cry on. They help others learn to get involved. They learn about how to get people the help they need when they are overwhelmed and need someone to “hold their space” for a while. They empower and encourage others to take a step towards seeing outside of themselves and how they can be a blessing to those around them. They selflessly give of time and energy to help with things that may not be their first choice of activities (hello, cleaning out the fridge and freezer! Thanks Steve H.).
And Deacons pray. They pray over the congregation. They pray over the needs of those around them. They pray for fellow Christians to be drawn closer to God. They pray for God’s healing touch and provision for family, friends and neighbors. They pray that we can all learn to be the hands and feet of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Being a “deacon” is not something that only some are called to do. It is something we are all called into as Christians: to love those around us in tangible ways that express the love that has been granted to us. It is taking a step towards God every moment, seeing Him and the impact He has on our lives and the lives of those around us. It is saying yes when we are a bit leery, but fully trusting that God is faithful and will be with us in and through it all.
So, I said yes to being a deacon and was affirmed by the congregation. But the truth is that being a follower of Christ is all that I described above. It may look different for some, but if our hearts are set out to serve and honor Him alone, we can’t help but say yes to following His leading.
I have now served in this role for one year and I have witnessed so much: seeing the church join together to love each other well; praying daily for each other and often for people we don’t even know; being that shoulder to cry on; rejoicing at the birth of a new life; mourning as we have said goodbye to dear loved ones; working through a conflict lovingly; supporting someone going through an emotional, physical or financial hardship; caring for each other in ways that may not even be known on earth.
Being a “deacon” is about taking opportunities for all of us to serve God by serving each other and our community in various ways. As a multi-faceted kaleidoscope, every way you turn it you see such beauty and amazing colors that you praise God for His creation and we rejoice that we get the privilege to be a small part of it!
Jennifer Bradford has been a member of NSCBC since 1999. She served as a Deacon-at-large last year and is currently the Deacon Chair.