Last night, I got to participate in the ordination of a friend, Chris, as a deacon. Our new addition–the guy in the tie in the photo–went from being a servant to being a Servant. And my guess is that not much will change about this man, despite his newfound capital letter and a nifty ordination plaque.
Before the ordination prayer, Chris had an opportunity to share his testimony. I don’t think he really looked forward to that. He’d probably agree with Moses from Exodus 4:10: “my mouth and my tongue are sluggish.” Nobody wants to hear Chris preach a sermon next Sunday, least of all him!
Despite what I think any honest hearer would describe as a labored presentation, Chris’ friends and family on social media thanked him for his “excellent testimony.” As I reflect on it, his words, although not eloquent, were all the right words.
But honestly, those few minutes of public speaking, his notecards shaking in his left hand, were not Chris’ excellent testimony. His testimony is as a gentle father, a devoted husband, and a man who takes on some of the most difficult children that our church has to offer. Over the years I’ve known him, he continually has shown everyone the individual attention, love, and discipline that they require.
If a deacon should happen to be a good teacher or preacher, that’s wonderful. It’s a bonus, but eloquence is not in the job description. Read 1 Timothy 3:8-13. Unlike the overseer in 1 Timothy 3:2, the deacon need not be “able to teach,” but he must be able to serve. As we’ve seen before, service is in the very name of a deacon.
The eloquent testimony that Chris has given was not in the five minutes or so that he spoke to us last night. His testimony is in how he deals humbly and faithfully with DJ and LJ, a couple of the challenging children that others might just dismiss. He seems to honestly enjoy those interactions. Just don’t ask him to give a speech about the work.