Specific spiritual gifting is not listed in the qualifications given in 1 Timothy 3:8-13 nor in other verses pertaining to deacons. Given that the responsibility of deacons seems to be that of tending to the practical needs in the church, hence freeing up the elders to preach the Word and tend to the spiritual matters or shepherding in the Body, we can surmise what gifts would help them accomplish this service-oriented ministry.
The Spiritual Gifts Deacons and Deaconesses Do Not Need To Accomplish Their Responsibilities
The Bible seems to make a distinction between the responsibilities of deacons and elders.
1) The original Greek words are distinct. “Presbuteros” (elders) signifies those who exercise oversight while “diakonos” (deacons) suggests those who serve.
2) The qualifications listed in 1 Timothy 3 show elders needing to be “able to teach” (1 Tim. 3:2) but that qualification is not listed for deacons.
3) In Acts 6 the ministry of serving (diakoneo) the widows was delegated to others so the shepherds of the church did not have “to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables.” Those chosen for this servant-oriented task accomplished the type of ministry for which deacons seem to responsible, implying that they are not responsible for preaching or teaching the Word.
Consequently, deacons and deaconesses would not need the spiritual gifts of teaching or prophecy to effectively accomplish their responsibilities. This doesn’t mean that they can’t have these gifts but simply that they would not be required.
The Primary Spiritual Gifts That Fit the Ministry of Deacons and Deaconesses
The Spiritual Gift of Helps
One of the objectives of deacons and deaconesses seems to be that of freeing up elders for preaching and shepherding by doing any variety of practical tasks so the elders do not have to do it all and thus be distracted from their primary responsibilities. Someone with the spiritual gift of helps would be well suited for such a supportive role.
The Spiritual Gift of Service
The Greek word for deacon is “diakonos” and the word used for the gift of service is “diakonia”, a form of the same word. Consequently, it would seem quite appropriate that a deacon might have the spiritual gift of service to fulfill his/her responsibilities. Someone with the gift of service would be prone to identifying the tasks that need to be done, whatever they might be, and use available resources to get the job done.
The Spiritual Gift of Mercy
Though not called deacons in Acts 6, the men were chosen to serve (diakoneo) widows. Very likely many of the needs deacons might encounter would be of a benevolent nature. Someone with the spiritual gift of mercy would exercise the kind of compassion people in these kinds of situations could use as practical needs are met.
Other Spiritual Gifts That Could Help Accomplish the Ministry of Deacons and Deaconesses
The Spiritual Gift of Administration
So many needs exist in the church that it takes organization and planning to effectively accomplish it all. Someone with the spiritual gift of administration could therefore serve well as the one who coordinates these efforts and matches up the right people to meet the needs.
The Spiritual Gift of Hospitality
The needs deacons serve can range from benevolence, finances, facilities, and many other logistics within the church. Still, other needs could relate to visitors or newcomers to the church who need to not only be ushered to their seats but also feel welcomed in a special way. A deacon with the spiritual gift of hospitality could extend that relational warmth while meeting their practical need of knowing where to go and what to do.
Quite possibly, a deacon could have one or a combination of the above spiritual gifts. The specific gift(s) the deacon has could be used to determine the kinds of needs on which that person most frequently focuses his/her time and energy. Ideally a deacon board will include a good balance of the gifts needed to effectively accomplish this ministry.