Derek Prince - How To Commission Servants Of The Church
The next purpose of laying on of hands is to commission servants of the church, sometimes called deacons. I wonder how churches would change if they realize that the word deacon in Greek means a servant. I mean, in some churches the Board of Deacons has a lot of authority. How would it be if they were called the Board of Servants? You see, we’ve got some of our terminology mixed up.
Ruth and I were going to Pakistan one time and we had to pass through the examination of the immigration. The man there, the Pakistani said to me, What are you? Well, it was a Muslim country and I thought I need to be pretty careful. Eventually I said, I’m a minister. I thought that’s a pretty safe term that most people don’t understand. From then on I got red carpet treatment everywhere. I went to the head of the line and so on. I realized later he thought I was a minister of the government of the United States. So far away are we from the real meaning of minister, which is a servant. If you are a minister, brother or sister, you are a servant. A servant of the Lord and a servant of the Lord’s people. Well, the church had run into a very good problem in Acts 6, they were growing so fast that they couldn’t take care of all the poor and the widows who needed their attention.
Let me point out to you another thing about the New Testament church. They invariably accepted responsibility for their widows. It was taken for granted. The problem today is that the government has taken over so many functions, that the church doesn’t really realize its responsibilities. But I still believe the church has responsibility for the poor, whatever way that responsibility is carried out. So, the believers came to the apostles and said: Things aren’t working out right, our widows are being neglected. So the apostles said, All right, we’ll take steps. This is rather a crucial situation. The twelve apostles summoned the congregation and said: It is not desirable that we should leave the Word of God and serve tables. Therefore seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business, that we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the Word.
What is the apostolic ministry? Prayer and the ministry of the Word. It’s not administration. They said we can get other people to do the administration. We’ve got to stick with our responsibility. So they said, choose seven men from among you whom you know. And, all of them had to be full of the Spirit. Not even a deacon was appointed in the early church unless he was full of the Holy Spirit. And this was the wisdom of the apostles because they were going to look after the finances. So they let the congregation choose the men. Then they accepted the men and ordained them, put them in their office. After that the congregation could never complain about the men because they were the ones that made the choice.
See how wise God is? So it says: they brought these men and set them before the apostles... and when they had prayed they laid hands on them. They were ordaining them. If you like to say deacons but the word deacon is not used there. I would prefer to say helpers. The apostles said we’re getting so busy we need helpers. The position of a helper was very, very important. And it’s interesting to see what happened to two of those men. Stephen became the first martyr and Philip became the God-acknowledged evangelist. So, brother or sister, if you start in the position of a servant, bear in mind it can be a stepping stone to something else. In fact, if you don’t start as a servant you really never will be promoted by God. Because God only promotes people who start down the ladder.