This is the 15th out of 16 Teachings of the Apostles found in what is known as the Didache, a writing that is said to have originated in the Community of Believers in Christ before Paul was sent on His journey.
The Apostles could not maintain a presence in every place they visited and planted a church so they had to enlist people who were in the Spirit to lead the people.
This portion is all too familiar for some and will probably surprise others. Once again we see them saying that the appointed leader should be humble, not be attached to money (all funds go to the church with little going into the leaders pocket), transparent, and knowledgeable. Once appointed they should be treated as the congregation wishes to be treated and not looked upon with evil intent. The portion reads:
Appoint bishops for yourselves, as well as deacons, worthy of the Lord, of meek disposition, unattached to money, truthful and proven; for they also render to you the service of prophets and teachers. Do not despise them, after all, for they are your honored ones, together with the prophets and teachers.
A Servant Leader
The appointed bishop should fall under the same category as other leaders where care is given. They have a responsibility to the deacons as instructor of deeper meanings so the deacons can grow as well as make Disciples of all men. The deacons need to be well versed in all aspects of care which means the bishop should have served as a deacon as well.
Unattached to Money
The Love of money is the root of all evil. To afford an opportunity for a bishop to fall, give him control of the money. That is what we are NOT supposed to do. There should be no contact between any higher head of the church and the funds that are given for the Glory of God to conduct missions and take care of other building and program needs. The bishop can hear about it but money should not be the only concern.
We are all human, we make mistakes, and we have skeletons. How many times did God appoint a person who sinned, was forgiven and given a second chance through making the person a prophet, a priest/pastor, or other type of religious leader? When going through the rigors of election to a position, it is best to be open and honest. If you are deemed worthy to speak God’s Word to a flock then you are good to go. When making the final decision, consult God. He knows where He wants His shepherds
Given Honor but Not Glory
To God be all Glory, no one else. The bishop has many responsibilities. Some of which are passed down to others who do the work. Gratitude is received with humility and the Glory is given to God. The mission of the church is to learn, love, and grow in Christ so we can become Disciples and share the Word with the world. The head of the church is responsible for giving the go ahead with the mission while those chosen for the mission implement the plan. They are not to be despised for to despise them is to despise God. He supplied them with the Spiritual Gift and others with other Spiritual Gifts. Do not hate on the chosen because you were not. Do not despise the bishop for choosing others above you. God has a mission for you, have patience.
This portion reiterates one very important aspect of Christian leadership that many falter on, money. God does not want us dependent on the world and His shepherds doubly so. I am not saying that leaders should be paupers or totally dependent on the flock for survival but they should not have certain worries or be tempted by desires that pull them away from the study and announcement of the Word.
How often do we see churches fall when they are consumed with money and numbers in the church. The concern should be the spiritual welfare of the community not how much individuals put in the offering plate. Also, a church that closes its main doors without someone left outside to welcome the late comers or those who come up but are frightened on how others will look at them because it is the first time for them in a church is not a church concerned with saving souls. Be watchful of those types of churches.
Brothers and Sisters we near the end of the study of the Didache as there is only one portion left. The next portion talks about Last Things. You will be surprised to note how eerily similar it is to today’s world.