One of the projects I had the opportunity to work on last year came to fruition with the publication, this month, of Exemplars: Deacons as Servant and Spiritual Leaders (Smyth and Helwys). Elizabeth Allen and Daniel Vestal, of Mercer University’s Baugh Center for Baptist Leadership, were the project’s editors. Carol Davis Younger, Mike Smith, and I each wrote sections of the book. 

The purpose of Exemplars, as Daniel wrote, “is to encourage and inspire deacons to become spiritual leaders as they seek to be exemplars of Christ and servants of Christ’s church.” The book has suggestions for individual study and group conversations.

Carol wrote in response to the question, “Who do deacons need to be?” In beautifully-written chapters, Carol said that deacons are living portraits who are part of God’s masterpiece, beloved children of God, and members of Christ’s church. 

Mike dealt with the question, “What do deacons need to know?” Mike replied that they need to know the scripture and how to interpret it in the light of Jesus, to learn church history, and to think theologically. Mike’s writing is clear, creative, and insightful. His three chapters synthesize and interpret complex ideas in engaging ways. 

I focused on the question, “What do deacons need to do?” and claimed that they practice private prayer and public worship, partnership in God’s mission, and creative and generous stewardship. My central idea was: “There are times when we don’t feel like doing what the teachings and example of Jesus call for us to do . . . . We have to act first and let our feeling catch up.”

You can find Exemplars at the publisher’s website:

And (here’s a shameless plug), while you’re there, you might be interested in the Annual Bible Study Guide I wrote a few years ago. It’s called, Matthew: Living as Disciples of Jesus. There’s a Teaching Guide and a Study Guide.  The Teaching Guide has more “content”; the Study Guide is for use by participants in a small group.