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While there are some passages in Scripture that detail the character of those who are called to the diaconate, the actual mechanics of the office are not always addressed directly. It seems that the "default mode" of the diaconate is financial administration — an admittedly central part of this important calling. But is financial administration the best "big picture" through which to understand what this office is all about? An idea from John Calvin can be really helpful here.

Calvin in some places talks about the link between elders, deacons, and the Great Commandment. The elders were the leaders in the church responsible for leading the people in the first part of the Great Commandment — "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength." The deacons are those leaders in the church for leading, catalyzing, and mobilizing the second part of the Great Commandment — "Love your neighbor as yourself." They are responsible for the congregation's outflow of mercy and neighbor-love ... for this entire dimension of a believer's life. Good financial administration is part of this ... but it should only be seen as a means to an end. Here's the question: How would seeing the heart of the deacon's task as "about love, not money" change the way that your diaconate views its calling and measures its success?

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