by Pastor Ayo Sparks
THE PRECONDITIONS FOR APPOINTING LEADERS AND WORKERS ON THE CHURCH
Apparently, some things were going wrong in the Ephesian church because unqualified and immature individuals were appointed to oversee the affairs. Unlike Peter admonished:
Acts 6:3 wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.
Those appointed over the affairs of the church at Ephesus were new believers who perhaps only have the zeal to serve but were lacking the fundamental prerequisites for leadership and stewardship in the church setting. Or, age long believers who refuse to grow in faith and grace. This same act of negligence is responsible for where the body of Christ is today because, individuals who lack the required attitudes and attributes to proffer exemplary leadership in the church are being ordained as ministers and are expected to deliver. There’s a church denomination where you can be ordained as a pastor to head a branch provided you are a graduate with a good job and you’re married. This has done more evil to the system than good and is doing a great deal of disservice to the body of Christ as well.
To right this wrong at Ephesus, Paul enumerated the required attributes that must be found in those who desire to serve in the Church as Leaders (Bishops) and Deacons/Deaconess (Servants).
1Timothy 3:This is a true saying, if a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.
A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;
Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; 4 One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity;
5 (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) 6 Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.
Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.
Likewise must the deacons be grave, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre; 9 Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience.
10 And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless. 11 Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things.
Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.
For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.
God called us all into the fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ, not because we are worthy or qualified but just the way we were, only that we must first believe.
Over the community of them that believe in diverse places, He established a Fivefold offices with the responsibility to raise and mature the saints for the work of the ministry or, in other words, for the administration of God’s house_ the church as a body. Those that are called are qualified by the Caller but those appointed to oversee church’s affairs are expected to have certain level of discipline, decorum and exemplary leadership traits as the representatives of the people (the believers) to the people (the unbelievers). By divine ordination, the church ought to be an institution that the world is looking unto for truth (the right way to live and get things done). So, any form of misrepresentation by the immature individuals in leadership positions is a great dent on the church as a body. This necessitates the need to have highly self-disciplined, principled and matured believers set over the church’s affairs.
We are not called to go about vying for tittles but to develop our sense of, and capability to take responsibility towards kingdom advancement.
Unlike as the title/office of the Bishop is being overly hyped today, it is originally or basically a position anyone in the church could desire and be ordained into by the Pastor to serve. Provided the individual is matured and grounded in the knowledge of the truth to which Paul gives us another dimension to its understanding:
1Timothy 3:16 And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.
Anyone that has such dimension of understanding of our Christian faith concerning Jesus and is able to teach the same is to be considered for a leadership position in the church, as he/she desires. Besides, such a one should be mature and as well-disciplined enough to subscribe to the Pauline resolution as in 1 Corinthians 6:12 and 10:23.
1Corinthians 6:12 All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. 13 Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats: but God shall destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body.
1Corinthians 10:23 All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.
When the right people are in positions of leadership in the church, there’ll be order and the church will keep waxing stronger in the faith, growing in grace. You reading this should as well desire the office of the Bishop or a Deacon in the church, as the requirements are nothing so grievous but such that should be our normal Christian attributes and lifestyle.
QUESTION: Is it okay for a woman (seemingly devoted to church activities because she doesn’t have a job) to be made a Deaconess and the husband (that’s hustling to meet the family needs and doesn’t attend church weekly activities) not be made a Deacon or Elder?
ANSWER: 1 Timothy 3:8 Likewise must the deacons be grave, not double tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre; 11 Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things.
Following the ecclesiastical order, it takes a Deacon to have a Deaconess. (Hope you got the message therein?) However, such might be permissible provided the woman meets up with the attributes required of a Deaconess (which ought to be the wife of a Deacon, though) with the consent of the husband. The woman’s loyalty and allegiance is first to her husband, not the church leadership!
Many homes have been destroyed due to such a seemingly minor issues like this. It is the more reason Paul instructed Timothy not to lay hand on anyone hastily, according to today’s chapter of review.
Personally, I believe we all can (and should be willing and ready to) serve without necessarily waiting vying for titles. For, tittle changes people who in themselves lack the required attitudes and attributes with corresponding sense of responsibility.