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