Clark expects to be a deacon of the church he and his wife Eloise recently joined. After all, why shouldn’t he? He owns the paper mill at the edge of town and employs a third of the men in the church. His tithe is probably twice that of any other contributor. In any gathering of men, his voice and personality is the strongest, and his authority unquestioned.
A word to Clark’s church: Do not appoint or elect this man to anything.
Nothing disqualifies a Christian from being chosen for service than a sense of entitlement. “I deserve this.”
I’m no prophet, but I know what will happen if Clark is made deacon:
1. Clark will expect to be chairman. He is no follower, but a (“ahem”) real leader.
2. Clark will have his own agenda for the church.
3. Clark will expect the pastor and staff to give great weight to his suggestions (which, pastor be forewarned, are not really suggestions but your assignment).
4. When he does not get his way, Clark will cause trouble.
5. The pastor will grieve the day Clark ever joined his church. And the congregation, torn between wanting to follow their God-sent shepherd but unwilling to buck the authority of the town’s heavyweight, is powerless.
Here are six men I have known in churches who had no business being deacons… or anything else for that matter. Yet, they found their way into position because of unbiblical systems that installed them. And the church suffered for it.
1. The Honcho. He’s not interested in being a servant. He’s only interested in being a big fish in a little pond.
2. The Inspector General. He doesn’t actually do anything himself (like serving), but he faithfully attends deacons meeting to make sure everyone else – especially the staff – is doing their jobs. He sits through a two-hour session, takes part in the discussions, gives his approval or his non-approval of what the pastor is doing, and drives home in full contentment that he has done his job. He cannot be counted on when work days are announced at the church. He never shows up on visitation nights. He says he has no skills for home repairs, so forget about asking him to build the handicapped ramp on the widow’s house. His job is to critique the work of others.
3. The Pew-Sitter. The problem here is that the church is small, the men are few, and the members feel deacons must be male… so he is elected by default. Since the church constitution requires five deacons, he is chosen as the fifth man.
Not a good system… and this man has no business being a deacon either.
4. The Plotter. He’s always maneuvering. He takes no one at face value, sees hidden motives behind everything, and finds problems where none exist. He invites the pastor and family to dine with him and his wife Henrietta at the country club to influence them to see his way. He is convinced he is the epitome of a faithful deacon.
5. The Spokesperson for Others. He walks into the office and says, “Pastor, some people in the church are saying….” Or “A few members are complaining….” Instead of running interference against these complainers and striving for unity in the church, he is a magnet for complainers, squeaky wheels, and gossips. They run to him because they know he will gladly listen. Why was this man made a deacon in the first place? It doesn’t matter. He is unqualified.
6. The Wanna Be Preacher. He’s always wanted to be a preacher. Or maybe his father or some other relative was a pastor. Since he can’t be one himself, he seems determined to overcompensate by running the church from the back seat (or board room). His favorite phrase is, “Pastors come and go, but deacons are forever.”
7. The Naysayer. This guy is against most everything. He thinks the church budget is too big, the staff too lazy, the pastor has too much authority, the sermons shallow, the youth too noisy, and the women are not under control. He has an opinion about e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g and they’re all negative.
Ask me how such people ever made into a leadership capacity and I will throw up my hands in exasperation. I don’t know… except to say that a broken system was used rather than a Biblical model.
No church will ever do anything more important that choose its leaders. Do it with the greatest of care.