I have lost count of the number of ordination services in which I have participated. Although the ordination of men and women to the Gospel ministry (perhaps I am dating myself in using that term) is meaningful to me, just as important is the opportunity to set aside men and women to the diaconate of the church. These are people who have shown that they have gifts to both lead and serve.
When I place my hands on the head of a new deacon, I whisper these words from 2 Peter 3:18: “Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” My desire for that person is that she or he will continue on the journey that they have begun so well and will continue to discover what it means to be a fully equipped follower of Christ.
In talking to church leaders, however, I have discovered that many have no roadmap for the journey of Christian growth. Whether they are deacons, Sunday school teachers, small group leaders, or committee chairpersons, they have no way to assess their growth in discipleship.
Although it is not a definitive list, I would like to suggest some ways that a person can ascertain whether he or she is growing as both a disciple and as a servant leader.
First, prayer. Ask yourself, “How often am I engaging in direct, honest conversation with God?” Prayer can easily become either formalized ritual that we practice without a second thought or a necessary task that we “farm out” to the church staff.
Second, Bible study. A growing disciple should consider the question, “Am I engaging with Scripture in such a way that it not only informs my understanding but transforms my life?” There is a significant difference between reading scripture for informational purposes and reading it for life transformation.
Third, spiritual direction. Consider this question: “Is there anyone in my life with whom I am transparent enough that they know the truth about me?” To put this another way, “Who could I call at two in the morning with a personal problem and know that they would listen without hesitation?”
Fourth, evangelism. Although it may be uncomfortable, ask “Do I understand my own faith story enough to share it with another person?” Every believer has a personal story that intersects with God’s story. What’s yours?
Fifth, concern for the marginalized. Ask, “Do I personally engage in some form of Christian service for the needy or the marginalized of my community?” Jesus said more about carrying the poor, hungry, and imprisoned than he did about any of the four previous items in this list.
Sixth, stewardship. Take the time to consider this question: “Do I have a balanced life when it comes to allocation of the resources God has placed in my hands—money, time, and talents?” God has blessed in many ways. How are you using what God has provided?
Most of these are hard questions that make us uncomfortable, but how we answer them gives some idea of where we are in our growth as disciples. I will return to each in upcoming blog posts.