Minimize the Murmuring to the Maximum

Deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain. They must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience.10 And let them also be tested first; then let them serve as deacons if they prove themselves blameless. 11 Their wives likewise must be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded,faithful in all things. 12 Let deacons each be the husband of one wife, managing their children and their own households well. 13 For those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and also great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.

1 Timothy 3:8-13

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As with last week’s post on the qualifications of pastors, so this one regarding deacons is full with points of discussion. I think it wise, however, to share a phrase I heard years ago – while pastoring Wynne Baptist Church in Wynne, AR – about one of the chief functions of a deacon in any healthy church: “Minimize the Murmuring to the Maximum.”

There is a reason Paul tells Timothy to make sure the deacons are not “double-tongued.”

There is a reason Paul tells Timothy to make sure the deacons live with a “clear conscience.”

There is a reason Paul tells Timothy to make sure the deacons’ wives are “not slanderers” but “sober-minded.”

Why? Because upset church members will go to the deacons with their gripes and complaints sooner and more often than they will the pastor and staff. If a deacon is “double-tongued” (says one thing to the pastor and another to the “upset” church member) – trouble is coming. If a deacon considers himself a Christian, yet could care less about what he says about the church (i.e., has no clear conscience) – uh oh. If a deacon’s wife likes to stir up other wives because of what her husband told her the pastor said or did – there goes unity and health.

The phrase “Minimize the Murmuring to the Maximum” has stuck with me because it’s catchy and so very important. A primary role of any deacon is to minimize any murmuring he hears to the maximum degree.

As I heard another pastor say once: “Deacons carry one of two buckets with them when they go to church. A bucket of water or a bucket of gas. If someone tries to stir up a fire, he can pour water on it and put it out quick. Or, he can pour gas on it and cause it to spread . . . rapidly.” It’s another way to plead with deacons to “Minimize the Murmuring to the Maximum.”

This is great wisdom for deacons. But if you think about it, it’s great wisdom for any church member. We should all seek – at the highest level – to keep any and all murmuring down to the smallest level possible.

Consider what Paul tells the church in Philippi:

“Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent,children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world (Philippians 2:14-15).”

For any deacon, it is imperative – a non-negotiable – that he “Minimize the Murmuring to the Maximum.”

But in all actuality – if any believer is going to shine in this dark world – the same goes for all of us.

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