There is always a need to define, redefine, evaluate where we are concerning our position and our commission. I submit being a bishop is much more than merely looking the part, we have to be the part. That means along with titles for status we need character for example.
The normal responsibility and authority of leadership in the NT rested with the bishops – elders – pastors – deacons; but if we are interested in pursuing biblical patterns of leadership, we must be concerned to demonstrate observable growth not only in our gasp of truth but also in our lived discipline (1 Tim. 4:14 – 16) of the Truth. We have to comprehend that spiritual leadership, far from lording it over others (Matt. 20:25 – 28), is a balanced combination of oversight (1 Tim. 4:11 – 13; 6:17 – 19; Titus 3:9 – 11) and example (1 Tim. 4:12; 6:6 – 11, 17 – 18; 1 Pet. 5:1 – 4) which, far from being negating are mutually reinforcing.
If you lived in the first four centuries of the church, being a bishop meant how well you were going to die for the Faith. Since most of the early bishops were martyred for the cause of Christ in this era. If you lived in the Middle Ages, bishops were defined as being both the civil and ecclesiastical authority of the known world. In fact, society functioned under both civil government and canon law, which led to wide spread corruption. In the Dark Ages and ultimately, the Reformation period, being a bishop was seen as what corrupted the Church and represented failed leadership of a glorious era of Church influence on the society of its’ day.
In Modern Day vernacular, being a bishop is almost like being a part of a new trend that rewards us with popularity, authority, wealth, and self-esteem. But are we fulfilling the mandate of Jesus Christ, our King, and leading a dark world to the light of His Glory by the light we shine on ourselves?
I am not coming down on the episcopacy, just pointing out some abuses that affect all of us as leaders and hinder our effectiveness for evangelism and stability in the Church of Jesus Christ.
In the last 20 years, I have never seen so many people wanting to become some titled recognizable giant in the Kingdom. If they don’t ascend to the bishopric, it is by some other recognized title or self-appointed title that justifies who they are. Again I beg, if you are not talking to God, how can you talk for God?
So the questions are – Who really has the authority in the Church? Is it vested in titles or demonstration? Is it credentialed or simply proclaimed? Is it a product of supernatural side show tricks or simply the ability to proclaim through intellectual prowess? Is it based on gender or race? Does one have to believe a certain doctrine or worship in a particular fashion?
I really don’t know if we will settle the authority question in the Church before Jesus comes or not. All I KNOW – is that we need to get a handle on leadership before the whole Church becomes too fragmented to reassemble and make herself whole.