8Deacons likewise must be men of dignity, not double-tongued, or addicted to much wine or fond of sordid gain, 9but holding to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. 1 Timothy 3:8-9
2So the twelve summoned the congregation of the disciples and said, “It is not desirable for us to neglect the word of God in order to serve tables. 3“Therefore, brethren, select from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task. 4“But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” 5The statement found approval with the whole congregation; and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch. Acts 6:2-5
First mentioned was Stephen, “a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit.” The second was Philip. Stephen, of course, went on to defend the faith to his death while Paul looked on. Philip became known as “the evangelist” with the Ethiopian enuch to his credit.
A deacon is one who is advanced in his Christian walk to the point that, without a doubt, his commitment to “the faith” is unassailable.
Paul starts his list of deacon qualifications with “likewise” or “in the same manner,” establishing his checklist for elders as equally applicable (with some minor derivations) to the men who were to serve tables. Same basic prerequisites. Different tasks. Again he uses “beyond reproach” as the default setting.
You don’t install a man to serve tables without first observing him to be a serious man who clings to the mystery of the faith, a sober man in his conduct and temperament, and a straight-forward man in his speech. He is to be generous as opposed to greedy, and trustworthy with secrets. A man who would serve needs to possess a clear conscience before God and man.
Only then does he earn the right to wash the dishes.