Definition Of Deaconess: A deaconess is a woman who serves congregation and community.
Deaconess duties vary greatly include such task as assisting with church ordinance, supporting the clergy, ministering to the needy and educating female church members.
The New Testament seems to indicate that both men and women were appointed as deacons in early church. In Romans 16:1 Paul calls phoebe a deaconess. I commend to you our sister phoebe, who is a deacon in the church in cenchrea.
Today bible scholars remain divided on the issue. Some believe Paul was referring to phoebe as a servant and not as one who functioned in the office of deacon. While some cite the above passage in 1 Timothy 3, where Paul describes the qualities of a deacon, as proof that women too are deacons. Verse 11 states, “in the same way their wives must be respected and must not slander others. They must exercise self-control and be faithful in everything they do. The Greek word here translated “wives” can also be rendered “women” thus some bible translator believe 1 Timothy 3:11 does not concern deacons wives, but women deaconess.
Characteristics of a Deaconess
• Deaconess Must Be Dignified: This term normally refers to something that is honourable, respectable, esteemed or worthy and is closely related to “respectable” which is given as a qualification for elders (1 Timothy 3:2).
• Deaconess Must Not Be Slanderous: This can also be translated “not malicious talkers”, “not false accusers” or “not devils. They must not gossips/spreading rumours or lies a rounds the church. They use their tongues to build up and not break down.
• Deaconess Must Be Temperate: This means they must practice self-control and restraint. They are not drawn to any excesses that might bring down their spiritual discernment, such as their eating and drinking habit, their social life and their emotion. They demonstrate self-mastery which allows them to think clearly and help others move effectively.
• Deaconess Must Be Faithful: “Faithful in every respect” can also be translated “trustworthy in everything”. This means that there must be faithful in doing the things of God and to the church. They most always keep secret of other members.
• Deaconess Must Seek The Interest Of Others Before Their Own(Philippians 2:4): This means that as a deaconess/ servant, the interest, need and want of others come first before personal interest.
• Deaconess Must Have A Pure Conscience: This mean to serve God in truth and in spirit, by condemning all things that are outside God. Not only will we condemn those thing that are evil, but also those that are good, for we know that those things are not God Himself. What we seek is not the work, the blessings or the church of God. What we desire is just God Himself.
• Deaconess Must Be Honest: A two face person or a double mouth person can’t become a deaconess. A deaconess must say the truth, stand for truth and people must be able to testify even in absence about her honesty.
Some Duties Of A Deaconess
• To bring up the new convert.
• To show hospitality.
• To live in harmony with everyone.
• Be reverent in her behaviour.
• To be present in all function in the church.
Paul concludes his instructions about elders, deacons and deaconess by stressing the benefits of serving Jesus and his church well:
• It is the way to secure an excellent standing in the local fellowship as a whole. After a time, a man or woman of good character will be highly esteemed by all from the humblest to the most exalted.