[Deacons] must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. And let them also be tested first; then let them serve as deacons if they prove themselves blameless (1 Timothy 3:9-10).
Paul continued with his list of deacon qualifications in verses 9-10. The fifth qualification is that they have sound theology. This actually distinguishes a pastor from a deacon. A pastor must be able to teach. A deacon doesn’t necessarily need to be able to teach. He just needs to be a good theologian. He needs to love the Lord. He needs to have sound theology. He needs to have a good grasp of their Bible. He needs to have personal convictions. He needs to hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience.
The key difference between a pastor and deacon is that a pastor primarily leads through their words, teaching, counseling, and preaching. A deacon primarily leads with his hands; serving, action, doing. The church needs both!
What does it mean that deacons “must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience”? You should be able to ask any deacon, even if it’s a deacon that you don’t think is doing a highly theological thing. You should be able to ask them, “What do you think about the Trinity?” He should be able to answer express a faith answer in the Trinity.
One biblical example of a deacon is Stephen in Acts 7. Here was a deacon who preached an amazing sermon, one of the most brilliant sermons in the New Testament. He loved the Lord. He had sound doctrine. He knew the Word. His primary thing was in teaching but he definitely held to the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience.
If you want to be a deacon, you must know your Bible. You must study. You must be a theologian who understands who God is and what He’s done and has no confusion about that in your own heart.
Sixthly, a deacon should be tested. It’s a big mistake to throw a leader into a position for which he is not ready. The Bible speaks metaphorically of the church calling it a body. One of the worst things you can do is just take an organ in a body without making sure it’s a genetic and blood type match and fit. It kills the organ and it kills the body. Many churches do just that.
You need to check them out. You have to know them. You need to know about their marriage – their kids. You need to see if they have a secret drinking or drug problem. You need to listen to them talk – “Do they really have a strong faith? Are they sound doctrinally?”
Because of Jesus,