Several weeks ago we had a deacon ordination at our church. As I was researching the passage I wanted to preach from that morning I ended up in Mark 10:35-45. The reason is not because that passage has to do with the office of deacon, but because it captures the heart of everyone involved in deacon ministry. In this passage James and John ask Jesus to do for them whatever they ask. They proceed to ask to sit on His right hand and left hand in glory. They did not display a servant attitude.
However, the other disciples did not either. Verse 41 says, "And when the then heard it, they began to be indignant at James and John." The response of these disciples was not what Jesus wanted either. All of the disciples in this passage missed the way in which Jesus would build His kingdom. So Jesus responds in verses 42-45 by showing that the way to be great in His kingdom is to become a servant of all.
Interestingly, in verse 45 a from of the word for deacon is used twice. It says, "For even the Son of Man came not to be served (deaconed) but to serve (deacon), and to give his life as a ransom for many." Jesus came to serve and He pointed His disciples in the same direction. If they were to follow Jesus and achieve greatness in His kingdom, they would have to empty themselves of everything in order to serve others, as it says in verse 44, "and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all."
I tied this in with our church by saying that we are all called to serve others. We are not called to lord our positions over one another, but rather to lay our lives down for one another. Those who do this well would make good deacons. The example that Jesus gives, however, is for all who are followers of Him. We are all called to lay down our lives for others.
Certainly it is not in the same way as Jesus. Jesus laid down His life as a ransom for many. We cannot do that. But we can lay our lives down for many. I wonder, what would happen if Christians today took seriously the pattern Jesus set by laying down their lives for others for the glory of God and to point to (let's not miss the reason for this) the fact that Jesus bought you and others with His blood. May we serve in such a way that people see our good works and glorify our Father who is in heaven.