10 Commandments for Deacons

A sharp-eyed reader sent this my way, from the page for the permanent diaconate in the Diocese of Fresno. It was first published in 1976.

  1. Remember you were a married man before you became a deacon. Your family is your first priority.
  2. Make your spouse and children feel like part of a team. Listen actively to their ideas and gripes.
  3. Be a spiritual director at home first—they need you too.
  4. Don’t expect to be a honored member in your family—you have been blessed by the Lord, not beatified!
  5. Don’t compare your wife and family to those of other deacons, either favorably or unfavorably.
  6. Don’t try to solve all the problems of the Church at once. Seek the direction of the Lord and try to do one or two things well.
  7. Try to accept criticism and don’t pretend that you have all the answers. People know better.
  8. Set aside a reasonable amount of time each week to be with family. No one is indispensable.
  9. Keep a calendar and inform your wife of your schedule.
  10. Love the Lord God with all your heart and soul, and your neighbor as yourself.

Over 40 years later, they hold up pretty well.

I might add a few more:

  • Talk to your pastor. Often. Make sure he knows your limitations and obligations — and that he understands your wife is a part of your ministry, both visibly and invisibly.
  • Pray. Often. I’ll say it again: pray often. It needs to be the cornerstone and capstone of your life and ministry.
  • Remember: a deacon is what you are, not just what you do. Don’t get so caught up in doing stuff that you forget about being, living, witnessing, learning, praying, listening, wondering.
  • Never forget why you are in this vocation. It is to serve and, in serving, bring about the salvation of souls.
  • Wash feet. It’s where a life in ministry begins. Never lose sight of that.
  • Be open to the Holy Spirit. You never know where he will lead you.
  • Live with joy. And make every day a living prayer of thanksgiving for the great privilege you have been given to serve the people of God as a deacon.  Can you believe how blessed you are?!

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