In the same way, deacons must be well respected and have integrity. They must not be heavy drinkers or dishonest with money. They must be committed to the mystery of the faith now revealed and must live with a clear conscience. Before they are appointed as deacons, let them be closely examined. If they pass the test, then let them serve as deacons. (1 Timothy 3:8-10)
Having spent some time outlining the requirements for eldership, Paul turns his attention to discussing what is required of deacons, an important but slightly lesser leadership role.
Many of the requirements listed mirror those necessary for an elder, but rather than skip over this second list we'll pause to look at some requirements not previously mentioned.
The first of these is integrity. Of course an elder needs integrity too, but this is implied in the previous list rather than being explicitly stated as it is here.
Our word 'integrity" is derived from the same root word as "integer". Maths students will know that an integer is a "whole number" and similarly a person with integrity is a "whole person". By that we mean, they are not divided: they walk the talk. Who they are at home is who they are at school, and who they are at school is who they are at youth group.
Imagine if your youth leader set up a hidden camera in your living room at home, Would they be surprised at what they saw? Would they be shocked at the way you talked to your parents or way you treated your brothers and sisters? Or would they find that your behaviour is consistent with what they see at church?
Or what if they were to attach a GO-Pro camera to your backpack as you left for school? Again, would they be shocked at what they saw? Or would they see behaviour, attitudes and words that were entirely consistent with the side of you they see at youth group?
Becoming whole like that is an important requirement of a leader and it is one that carries with it an asset of immense value: a clear conscience.
Having a clear conscience doesn't mean you need to be perfect, but it does mean that you are quick to admit your faults and seek forgiveness along with God's power to change.
When your conscience is not clear, it will limit your capacity to confront faults in others, particularly when those same faults are evident in your own life and you are reluctant to do anything about it.
A conscience that is not clear will also cause you to be plagued with a sense of guilt. The gulf between who you present yourself as being and who you really are will eat away at you and ultimately undermined and destroy your capacity to lead.
Pursue integrity and enjoy the fruit of a clear conscience if you want God to use you.
As you read through this blog post what aspects of your character and behaviour came to mind? In what areas of your life do you lack integrity and a clear conscience?
Be determined about changing. Confess your failings to God and ask Him to help you change. Having a mentor or someone you can be honest with about your struggles can be an enormously helpful asset for any leader. Again, no one expects you to be perfect but they do expect you to be serious about sin and determined to overcome it. Consider who you might approach as a mentor.