Dignified? Don’t Think So.

Pete found out a few weeks ago that he’s been nominated as a deacon for our church. This was a huge blessing, considering the discouragement he’s experienced in the past year or so.  It’s also a great idea on the part of the person(s) who nominated him (no, it wasn’t me, though I was tempted).  Pete’s heart is pulled toward meeting people’s needs, particularly in a time of crisis.

He accepted the nomination and entered the process, which began with a lengthy interview with the Board of Deacons.  Once he’d passed that hurdle, the next step was the “question and answer” meeting, to which the entire congregation was invited.  That meeting was held last night, with all eight nominees up on stage, ready to listen and answer.  Out of a membership of roughly 800, I’d say there were probably fifty people there.  Not great, but not bad.

The first question was a doozy:  “Taking the requirements of deacons from I Timothy, would you say that you meet the qualifications?”

The questioner was referring to I Timothy 3:8-13, which states:  “Deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain. They must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. And let them also be tested first; then let them serve as deacons if they prove themselves blameless. Their wives likewise must be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, faithful in all things. Let deacons each be the husband of one wife, managing their children and their own households well. For those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and also great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.” (NAS)

As the nominees began to take their turns answering the question, I flipped to the passage and read it for myself.  I sat there nodding as I read along, because Pete most definitely qualifies.  Until I reached the part about the wives.

Gulp.  I’m supposed to be dignified?

The Random House dictionary defines dignified this way: “characterized or marked by dignity of aspect or manner; stately.”

This definition brings several people to mind:  Grace Kelly (was there ever a person with a more appropriate first name?).  Laura Bush.  Rosa Parks.  Margaret Thatcher.  I don’t see myself fitting anywhere in this list.

Sitting there in the pew, staring at that word, I panicked.  How does one suddenly become dignified after 38 years perfecting the art of being goofy?  I decided then and there that I’d have to research the original Greek text to see if the purest translation might be something closer to what I can manage.

Well, the closest I could get was Young’s Literal Translation (which, by the way, I love): “Women — in like manner grave, not false accusers, vigilant, faithful in all things.”

I’d have a better shot at “dignified” than I would at “grave.”  And, while we’re at it, I’m not all that solid on “vigilant” and “faithful in all things,” either.  At least I loathe gossip, so I think I’m clear on “slander/false accusers.”

If anyone has a fresh perspective for me on “dignified” or “grave,” I’d appreciate your input.  I know that our God is a God of grace, so I do realize that perfection is not required.  But I take very seriously my role as Pete’s wife, so I want to at least make a good faith effort at fulfilling the role well.



3 thoughts on “Dignified? Don’t Think So.

  1. One thing that “might” ease your mind (and it might not) is that the manner in which this passage is translated is not the most accurate – possibly. 🙂 The word for “wife” and the word for “woman” or “women” are the same word in the Greek – Gune (Goo-nay). It has traditionally been translated as “wife” in this passage – suggesting that it’s speaking of the Deacon’s wife. But what if it’s supposed to be “women” – which would imply that it’s speaking of women who are considered for the position of Deacon? In that case it would read, “And the women should be…”

    I personally think this is a more legitimate interpretation, mainly because there is no mention of qualifications for the Elders’ wives, and if the wives need to meet certain qualifications, you’d think their wives would be just as important as the Deacon’s wives… wouldn’t you?


  2. Carey,

    You know, I did notice that the YLA says “woman” and not “wife.”

    Perhaps I can slip under the radar. 🙂

    Though I would like to be dignified. If that were somehow possible.

    Thanks for the thoughtful comment.


  3. I take exception to your list of those whom you consider qualified as dignified, but that is another discussion.

    Do you feel a goofy person is the antithesis of an grave person?

    Do you feel you are an undignified person then?

    Who is to judge you as being dignified/grave or not?

    Let me say this, I certainly hope that the first day I spend in my ‘grave’ (as grave of an action I can imagine), it’ll be a goofy one, at least my to the dirt body I leave behind, providing my wishes are adhered too.

    Personally, I think you need to read the entire book to get a glimpse of the seriousness of Paul’s writing and not read too much literal definition of specific words into this letter. If you read some of the other chapters, one may get an entire, and frightfully, different view of church rules than what many, nearly all, churches now employ.

    If you don’t agree, you’d better change your iconic picture, it makes me smile rather than think I am visiting a grave. 😉

    Maybe, reading 2:9, you should retake the picture wearing a burqa. 😉
    please don’t.

    Grave actions are relative terms.

    Here is a commentary on the passage referencing this to deaconesses…

    and for arguments sake, which definition of deacon is your church prescribing?

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