For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee: If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate; Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers. ( Titus 1:5-10)
The Church is a family. Thus there is a hierarchy within the church, of responsibility. The Apostles instructed that elders be appointed, in order to give the church servant leadership. The leadership must be qualified according to the standards outlined above, and they serve for the purpose of promoting and defending the faith.
Jesus taught much about the true nature of leadership as opposed to the self serving leadership models of the Gentiles.
But Jesus called them to him, and saith unto them, Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them. But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: and whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.( Mark 10:42-45)
Christian leadership is not based on the acquisition and use of power and authority over others as an end in itself. True leadership as taught and modeled by Jesus is servant leadership. “If you want to be great (Mega), you have to willing to be a servant(Diakonos)…”.
The Christian concept of Authority is merely the flip side of Responsibility. Someone in the Church should be responsible for the teaching, to defend it against error, to promote the Truth, and for ethical accountability in the body of Christ. Biblical authority only extends as far as responsibility.
As the Pastor of our fellowship, ( I serve as one among other elders), we have a responsibility to maintain the doctrine of Christ, to facilitate services of worship and edification, and to uphold church discipline. I too must submit to the same accountability to those ideals.Church responsibility, (thus authority) is very limited.
It is our belief and practice that all of us are in a position that we can be called upon to be accountable to the Word of God. If in anyway, if any of us deviate, anyone in the fellowship should have the freedom to approach us and to call us into account to the Word of God. Our ‘covering’ is the Word.
The characteristics listed above in Titus are simple. They involve personal character and demeanor. Humility, patience, control over passions and emotions, well spoken of in the wider community, and of course sound in doctrine and faithful to it.
The Bible condemns those who abuse authority, “lording it over others” or selfishly clinging to power to the exclusion of others.The Apostle Peter, who refers to himself as an Elder, and witness of the sufferings of Christ, had this to say to the Elders,
The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.( I Peter 5:1-4)
Feed the flock of God… One can hardly read these words of Peter’s without remembering his own re-instatement into the ministry of Jesus after He had denied Him in the Passion. “Peter, do you Love Me? ….feed my sheep…Feed my lambs“. The only pre-requirement for Peter, was Love for Jesus. Do you Love me?
The Word “Feed” is Bosko- in Greek, and it means to pasture, or to give food. In a wider sense it means to take on the role of a Shepherd. Jesus is “the Shepherd and Bishop of our Souls”.
The Primary task of the Pastor/elder/teacher is the feeding of the true flock of God. Jeremiah predicted in the name of God, “I will give them Pastors after my own heart who will feed the people with Knowledge and understanding”.( Jeremiah 3:15)
Peter also called on men to “Take the Oversight thereof…” , the Word for ‘oversight’ is Episkopos. Someone has to take the responsibility and look out for the flock. God calls some to do so, and Peter here urges them to do so in humility and love, and by example.
The Real Shepherd, the Chief One, who is the true “shepherd and Bishop of our Souls” will soon appear, and give a crown to those who were willing to serve in such a way. More on this soon…