by Jacob Martin, Conference President
The work of a "bishop" or "overseer" is very important. Those who lead have a serious responsibility. Paul wrote, “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" (1 Timothy 3:1-2).
General S. Schwartskoph, who commanded the U.S. forces during Operation Desert Storm, once spoke to an automobile dealers' convention in Dallas. He shared several military rules. Among them was rule #13: when in command, take charge and rule #14: when in charge, do right.
We need leaders who live with integrity, lead with intelligence, labor with intensity, and love instinctually.
1. A Bishop Ought to Live With Integrity
As Paul said, a minister must be “blameless” in his behavior. A minister’s integrity is the single most important thing he has. If a minister lacks integrity, he will not have an effective ministry, regardless of how much ability he has. We have all known ministers with great ability who have lost their ministry because they lacked integrity.
Vance Havner once said, “God is on the lookout today for a man who will be quiet enough to get a message from Him, brave enough to preach it, and honest enough to live it.”
Paul reminded us of a serious truth in 1 Corinthians 9:27: “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.”
Let us live with integrity!
2. A Bishop Ought to Lead With Intelligence
A famous surgeon was invited to a dinner party. The host bragged, “Watch me carve this turkey, doc. I’d make a good surgeon, wouldn’t I?” The surgeon replied, “Anyone can tear it apart. Let me see you put it back together.”
Ministers must be “apt to teach." They must feed the flock.
“Woe be to the shepherds of Israel who feed themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flock? Ye eat the fat, and clothe you with wool; ye kill them that are feed: but ye feed not the flock. The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed the sick, neither have ye bound up that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost: but with force and with cruelty have ruled them. And they were scattered.” (Ezekiel 34:2-5)
“I will feed my flock, and I will cause them to lie down, saith the Lord God. I will seek that which is lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which is broken, and will strengthen that which was sick...” (Ezekiel 34:15-16)
We need God’s wisdom to build up the saints, reach the lost, and see our churches grow.
UNDERSTANDING THE NEEDS OF THE DAY
1 Chronicles 12:32 says that "the children of Issachar, which were men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do; the heads of them were two hundred; and all their brethren were at their commandment.”
We must lead our people into renewal and revival, evangelism and ministries.
Someone has said “our preachers are not dreaming, that’s why the church is such a nightmare.”
There is no room for pessimism in the church of God. Every church deserves a pastor who believes something significant will happen in the church that he oversees. If a pastor lacks this kind of vision, he should humbly seek God until he sees the potential from God’s point of view.
Joseph was a stranger in the vile land of Egypt, but God wanted him there to save his people.
Esther was a queen in a land that hated the Jews, but God wanted her there to preserve her people.
Daniel was jailed in a den of vicious lions, but God wanted him there for a testimony.
Jonah groaned in a watery grave inside a great fish, but God wanted him there to learn a great lesson.
Paul and Silas lay in prison, but God wanted them there to lead a soul to Christ.
Peter faced them same, but God wanted him there to show His power to answer prayer.
John was isolated on a lonely rock island, but God wanted him there to write Christ’s revelation.
Why does God have you where you are at this moment? You are there to be part of the solution and not part of the problem! Leaders must lead!
Is God leading you to a food bank ministry, children’s ministry, teen ministry, street work, Bible study, jail ministry, nursing home ministry, or Bible distribution effort? Is he asking you to be a hospital chaplain, start a radio ministry, or participate in a missions project? Perhaps he wants you to start a prayer station or start a new Spanish church!
God led me to lead our people into a prayer station ministry many years ago in Sunbury, PA. Over 65 have participated. It has served to train new individuals for ministry and reached new adults and children for the church. We placed it in front of the dollar store and market house. During the annual River Festival, thousands of tracts are passed out. God challenged me to fill our “Jerusalem” with His truth.
President Paul Guinn of Louisiana College once said “no other well organized vocational area is as tolerant of mediocrity in thought or performance as is the Christian ministry. And in no area is that mediocrity so well protected. To preach effectively and care for people inside and outside the church is difficult and demanding. Laziness is blight and shouldn’t be a part of the bishop’s life.”
3. A Bishop Ought to Labor With Intensity
Colossians 4:17 instructs ministers to “take heed to the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord, that thou fulfill it.” Jesus warned us to work because the night is coming when no man can work.
Someone within an exceptionally short radius of your church or place of ministry needs to be saved. There is a woman at the well, a Nicodemus, and a child who needs to learn about Jesus for the very first time.
Jesus said suffer the little children to come unto me. What a privilege to give a child his or her first Bible! Give them a chance to attend their first Vacation Bible School!
There are homes on the verge of divorce where you can make a difference.
There is a drug addict or alcoholic that needs the message of deliverance.
There are teenagers that need to know there is a better path.
There are widows and elderly who are lonely and need your presence.
James 1:27 says that “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.”
THERE ARE CONTACTS TO BE MADE
Door-to-door visitation still makes a difference. In each of our three pastorates many people have visited our church as a result of this method. Several are saved today. We must have a method! We must meet people, invite people, and talk to people about knowing Christ.
Intensity in our labors leads to new converts. New converts lead to new workers. New workers lead to new church plants. Our church planted a new church on June 22, 2008. We had 34 on the first Sunday. Through prayer, knocking on doors, and VBS, souls have already been saved. A newspaper interview during that time yielded around 18 new visitors to the new church. God honors our labors!
A lady who was in her 80s from one of our churches used to go to the laundry mat to meet people. She once brought a lady to church that she had led to Christ that same day. That new lady is still a Christian today. Another lady found a flyer on the ground that fell from the door where it had been placed. She came to the service.
I once invited a family to church that I met at the grocery store. They didn’t come for several years. Then, one day, they showed up. The 19-year-old daughter was later saved and entirely sanctified. She is a blessing for God to this day.
Bro. George Wolfgang held Bible studies in the high rise where he lived; he led a man to Christ and was a blessing to many others.
God led me to play football at a field in the community. I asked, “Do you allow old people to play?” One of the players, Frankie, who called me “Preacher man,” came to church, went to the altar, and was saved.
THERE ARE CALLS TO BE MADE
You must follow up on people who come to your church. You need to go to the hospital when your neighbors go to hospital.
You must visit your church people. If you neglect your sheep, you will have strife and division sooner or later.
If some worked as hard for the kingdom of God as they do for votes during the election and talked about Jesus as much as politics, we would see God’s kingdom increase!
4. A Bishop Ought to Love Instinctively
Vance Havner used to share this story: “When I was a young pastor at a country church, I kept hearing about a former shepherd of my flock, one Josiah Elliott, who preached back in the horse and buggy days. Other pastors of greater scholarly and social attainments had followed him, but I heard most about Josiah Elliott. One day I went back near the creek where my farmer friend, John Brown, was plowing and asked him where lay the secret of the old preacher's power. John reflected for a moment as he was wont to do, and then remarked simply: He just loved us. In my heart rang the old, old words we are so slow to learn: 'though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels and have not charity (divine love) I am become a sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal' (1 Corinthians 13:1)."
“Then said he also to them, when thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, nor thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbors; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompense be made thee. But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: and thou shalt be blessed. For they can’t recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.” (Luke 14:12-14)
We know it is right to “do good especially to the household of faith” (Gal. 6:10); also, Paul wrote that we are to be “given to hospitality” (1 Timothy 3:2). So, it is okay for a church to gather for times of fellowship and serve one another's needs; however, we should not stop there in our giving. When we do something for those who do not know us and cannot give us anything back, we know we will be “recompensed at the resurrection of the just.”
Let’s keep giving to missions: many countries still need our help. Our Bible colleges still need our support as they prepare laborers for the harvest. Your communities still need you ministering to the poor, blind, and broken - physically and spiritually.
Hebrews 6:10 says that “God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labor of love, which you have shewed towards his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.” God sees us and will reward us for our labors.