The Qualified Overseer

Dusty Owens

There are many misunderstandings among those professing to follow Jesus Christ, concerning the men referred to in the Bible as elders, bishops (I prefer the word, "overseer" to the institutionalized, "bishop") and shepherds (pastors). The people of God have been in constant argumentation for over a century as to who these "overseers" were, how they became such, and the work they did? Brethren have shamefully fractured the body of Christ, each group claiming to have the absolute truth on all matters and demanding that everyone submit to their infallible interpretation of the Scriptures. In many circles, any suggestion running counter to "what we have always believed and practiced," is rejected automatically without further study or consideration. The prejudicial minds of the masses are locked shut and the keys thrown away. Furthermore, those who make suggestions for possible Biblical interpretations that would solve the problems causing divisions are branded as "heretics," "unfaithful," or "unsound," and are treated henceforth as "suspect, and worthy only of second-class citizenship in the kingdom," or worse. Surely, Ephraim is in love with his idols!

This writer may never appeal to those who, having cast their thinking in cement years ago, will not tolerate for one moment any divergent view on the matter, but he labors in high hopes that there are many honest hearts that might read this and give it due attention. All he asks is that you study the Scriptures for yourselves and consider carefully the thoughts presented. Certainly, you must agree that there has been far too much confusion generated on the subject of elders/overseers/shepherds; so much so that many have thrown up their hands in despair and have given upon the possibility, of ever understanding the subject. I claim not to know everything about it, but one thing I know for certain, my position and teaching on this subject eliminates most of the difficulties that have divided brethren over the years.

The title of this article, THE QUALIFIED OVERSEER, sets forth the parameters for this study. Purposely, I did not entitle it "The Qualifications of Elders." The reasons will become apparent as we proceed.

First, it is my studied opinion that the word "qualification" carries with it ideas that are "CONTRARY TO SOUND DOCTRINE." One of its definitions is, according to Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary, "Any endowment or acquirement which fits a person for a place, office, or employment.' Unfortunately, most Christians have been educated by the leadership of the Institutionalized Church to think in terms of this definition of the word and consequently believe it is God's will that men be picked to "fill" places and/or offices in "the church."

According to the theory, "the qualifications" are listed in First Timothy 3 and Titus 1 and must be acquired by men before the congregation can "appoint them to office." This "appointment" is said "to make them elders/bishops," something they were NOT before the "appointment," even though they "possessed the qualifications." An "office" is viewed by many as something "empty" until it is "filled." It is understood to be like an "office" of the President, or Governor. These ideas are erroneous and dangerous, especially since the Bible does not teach them. However, they fit right into the concept of the Institutional Church.

Are you having some difficulty understanding what the Institutional Church is? Could you identify one? Do you "belong" to one? Let me help you with it by underscoring a couple of its features. People make the church into an institution when they treat it as SOMETHING MORE THAN the disciples. They claim that God has charged Christians everywhere to form themselves into something called the "local church," with certain duties that only it can do. In fact, disciples cannot do these "certain duties" except through the "local church." Supposedly, the church has one program of work to do and the Christians have another. Do you read anything like this in your Bible? A "DISTINCTION between the church and those who compose it" is IMAGINED. In truth, there is a failure to recognize that THE CHURCH AND THE DISCIPLES ARE ONE AND THE SAME!

Also, the church is institutionalized by those who advocate and insist that Divine authority resides in the hands of a few men called elders/overseers/ shepherds, who in turn demand the submission of all Christians in their midst. To them, the church exists as an "entity, SEPARATE AND APART FROM the disciples." According to these institutional folks, the church has "places/offices/positions" of authority to be filled by men said "to meet the qualifications set forth for elders." These men are ranked "OVER" the brethren, assigned Divine authority, and allowed to govern all the affairs of the corporation. They decide for everyone the "true teaching of Jesus Christ," determine who will be "marked" or "withdrawn from," control the finances, look after the building, hire and fire the preacher, and jealously guard the "local church organization.'' They may not admit to being the "Clergy," but their practice betrays them. And, the preachers are the creators and promulgators of the system. Listen to me my brother and sister, I am describing to you the Institutional Church. My Bible describes the church as saints, disciples, Christians--hence, PEOPLE. That is what the church is--PEOPLE! GOD'S PEOPLE, NOTHING MORE!

Nowhere in Scriptures do you read, "the qualifications for elders." None of the apostles, used this expression, nor anything like it. The Holy Spirit did not designate I Timothy 3 and Titus 1, "The Qualifications of Elders." Uninspired men assigned that designation! Bible teachers have assumed that Paul wrote to Timothy and Titus, giving them "the qualifications of elders." We all have talked about it for years, BUT THAT DOES NOT MAKE IT TRUE! Since this concept is not from God but from men, do we not, therefore, have a right to reject it, if in fact, it is not true?

The second reason for rejecting the idea that these are "the qualifications" is that the "combined list" to Timothy and Titus is INCOMPLETE. Paul did not say one word to either man about "loving," "gossiping," "fornicating," "stealing," "lying," etc. This is significant, for if this "list" is suppose to contain" The qualifications," the best we can say for it is that it is incomplete! If Paul intended for this to be an exhaustive "list of qualifications," then why is it incomplete? Common sense tells us that it was never meant to be a "list of qualifications."

The third reason for the rejection is that Paul's list to Timothy DIFFERS from his list to Titus. He told Timothy that an overseer should not be "a novice, lest being puffed up he fall into the condemnation of the devil" (v. 6). Was this one of "the qualifications.'' If se, why did Paul not feel compelled to add this one to Titus' list? But, that is nothing, Paul really short-changed Timothy. Look at what he failed to tell him, although he passed them on to Titus: an overseer must be "a lover of good...just, holy..holding to the faithful word...that he may be able both to exhort in the sound doctrine, and to convict the gainsayers." These are really important "qualifications," are they not? Then, why did Paul keep them from Timothy? Can't you see, my friend, that we have been assuming something that is not there, taking for granted all this time that these were the "qualifications of elders."

For years, brethren have assumed that we must put the two lists together to get one complete list of "qualifications." Even then, logic (?) carried us to different points of view, over which many chose to be contentious and to "withdraw fellowship." Closer scrutiny, however, reveals that Paul never intended for these passages of scripture to be taken as "the qualifications of elders." If they were, it seems to me that Timothy and Titus would have received identical and exhaustive lists. Also, consider that Timothy was in Ephesus when he received his letter from Paul; Titus was in Crete, hundreds of miles from Ephesus. They did not have a "combined list." Earlier, we noticed that Paul told Timothy things about elders he did not tell Titus, and vice versa. Did he leave out "qualifications" to one or the other? Again, we will have to conclude that Paul never meant for these passages to be interpreted as "the qualifications."

Then, what did Paul mean when he penned these verses? The answer is so easy we miss it. Paul simply set forth THE QUALITY of person an overseer must be, WITH SOME EXAMPLES of how the overseer demonstrates this quality. "But," someone asks, "are you not 'splitting hairs'? It seems to me that 'qualification' and 'quality' are one in the same." There is a sense in which this is true, in that, an occasional use of "qualification" corresponds to the definition of "quality." But normally, we do not use the word "qualification" this way. Admittedly, I am being somewhat technical, but please, follow my reasoning.

We have seen that the thrust of the meaning of the word, "qualification," is "to render fit for a place, office, or employment." Therefore, I must reject the use of this word with that meaning. The word could mean simply, "to render fit for service," hence, "to be qualified for a work," and I could accept this; however, since most people would not understand it in this light but in the more popular meaning of the word, I try not to use it. Instead, I prefer to use "quality."

According to Webster, the thrust of the word "quality" has to do with the NATURE or CHARACTER of the thing under consideration. He defines the word: "1. Proper or essential being; nature. 2. Hence, an attribute; characteristic. 3. Class, kind, or grade... 4. Distinctive trait, power, capacity, or virtue. 5. Excellence of acquired trait; accomplishment." I can accept these definitions of the word "quality" relative to Paul's description of the overseer in his writing to Timothy and Titus. He is talking about the characteristics, attributes, or traits of the man. In short, he is concerned about his character. I suggest to you that PAUL SETS FORTH ONE QUALITY, ONE TYPE OF CHARACTER, THAT AN OVERSEER MUST POSSESS!

One Quality Required

When Paul wrote to Timothy and Titus about the kind of man who makes a good elder/overseer/ shepherd, he emphasized his impeccable character, then listed several areas of his life where it could be seen. In other words, Paul stressed the ONE QUALITY of the man that reflected his spirituality. Everything else Paul mentioned was in subjection to this ONE QUALITY. Let us be impressed with this as we consult various translations: In every area of his life he had to be "BLAMELESS"-King James Version; "WITHOUT REPROACH"-American Standard Version; "WITHOUT FAULT"-TOday's English Version; "ABOVE REPROACH" -New International Version, Revised Standard Version, New English Bible; "OF BLAMELESS REPUTATION"-Phillips Modern English; of "IMPECCABLE CHARACTER"-Jerusalem Bible; "ABOVE SUSPICION"-The Simplified English Bible. I believe this to be the main thrust of Paul's teaching both to Timothy and to Titus. That is why the "lists of qualifications" are incomplete. Any requirements not found in the text, such as, "to love," "not to lie," "not to gossip," etc., are included in "must be blameless," as are the rest that ARE in the text. I repeat, the emphasis is on ONE QUALITY: THE SPIRITUAL MATURITY AND CHARACTER OF THE MAN, IN ALL HIS PHYSICAL RELATIONSHIPS.

This QUALITY must be reflected in all areas of his life: IF HE IS MARRIED, he must be a 'one woman man" (mias junaikos andra). He cannot be a polygamist and remain "blameless;" IF HE HAS CHILDREN (or child) who act unruly or out of control, he is not "blameless; IF he cannot teach or convict the gainsayer (one who opposes Christ or contradicts His teaching), he is not "blameless; IF he is quick-tempered, a fighter, loves his booze, and is contentious, he is not "blameless," IF he is deceptive, full of lies, a malicious slanderer and maligner of another's reputation, he is not "blameless," etc. Do you get the idea? In all areas of his life: family, work, community, school, recreation, he must be "blameless," "above reproach,'' and of "impeccable character.'' As this man moves and works among people, he must be the epit-omy of a Christian; He is to set the example for the rest of the disciples; He is to lead the flock by example, as a shepherd, not demand of them obedience like a Lord (1 Pet. 5:1-5).

"One Woman Man"

But, where do most people focus attention: The first things they ask are, "Is he married and does he have children who believe?!" Both are physical relationships that do not relate directly to being a qualified shepherd. He is not qualifying for the work of "marriage counseling" or "family service." God wants him to be a high principled, morally upstanding man who is knowledgeable in the Scriptures, and He has provided in His word all the elder needs to know about relationships between husband and wife, or parents and children. Anything beyond that is worldly wisdom and should be used with a great deal of caution.

Why don't we first ask, "Can he teach the word of God, or can he convict the gainsayer?" Why don't we find out if he is spiritually wise, filled with integrity, loving, kind, and a gentle man, one who already spends a great deal of time "watching out for the souls" of the saints? Not one who is waiting for some kind of "appointment'' from the brethren to some imagined position of prestige and authority, and THEN he will do the work. This man very seldom gets past "keeping the financial business of the church" and on to the work of carrying out the spiritual responsibilities given him by the Holy Spirit.

Why don't we expect this man to be Christ-like? Jesus is the Chief Shepherd. Surely, the elder/shepherd is to be like Him. WAS JESUS MARRIED? DID HE HAVE CHILDREN? WOULD IT BETTER QUALIFY HIM FOR THE WORK OF SHEPHERDING? ACCORDING TO THE REASONING OF MANY, JESUS COULD NOT QUALIFY TO BE THEIR SHEPHERD· He was not married, and He had no children. Alas, Jesus cannot qualify to be the shepherd of our flock! Though He may say, "I am the good shepherd; and I know mine own, and mine own know me, and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep" (John 10:14-15). Human wisdom re-spends, "But Jesus, you cannot be a shepherd because you never married nor had children. You are not qualified!'' No, we do not reason this way about Jesus, because we know that these things are incidental to His work of shepherding. So it is with those whom the Holy Spirit appoints to "shepherd the flock. The emphasis should be on their being Christ-like!

Finally, why don't we require that the elder teach "publicly, and house to house," as Paul wanted the elders from Ephesus to do (Acts 20:20)· We seem to be willing to overlook the fact that most elders are not teaching (most cannot!) and if a deep, controversial study or a debate comes up, they call for "the preacher" to handle it. By this, they show themselves to be inadequate and insecure. The overseer of Paul's day had to be able "to teach" and "to convict the gainsayer," OR HE WAS NOT "BLAMELESS."

If God had commanded that an overseer be married and have "believing" children, there would be no question about obeying it, but He did not command it. We have concluded by our own "logic" that it is a command of God. The "logic" goes something like this: "He must be married and have children to prepare him to be a good counselor to other married couples and parents. He needs that experience to be able to pass on sound judgement." Sounds good, doesn't it. The only problem is that God didn't give those reasons, man did. The bottom line is that a single man, older, spiritually wine and mature, equipped with the wisdom of God (Word) can do just as well as the married man. The apostle Paul gave advice to the married and to parents, and he was not married at the time. That advice came by the Holy Spirit, and any man has that same advice available to him for counseling others today. All he needs to do is consult the Word of God.

For one to make "must" of First Timothy 3:2 refer to "the husband of one wife," and conclude that the overseer must be married creates contradictions and confusion in the Scriptures. In verse 12, we read, "Let deacons be husbands of one wife, IF THEY BE BLAMELESS." People who say that overseers must be married conclude the same about deacons, quoting this verse. Notice, Paul states this to the deacons as a command. In the Greek, it is the imperative mode, which is the command mode. Whatever Paul meant to say about deacons and overseers, he voiced it as a command. I interpret this command to be RESTRICTIVE (restricting the man to one wife, if he is married) and not QUALITATIVE, meaning he must be married.

Notice also, that the command is conditioned by "if they be blameless." This is very significant. Paul is focusing on polygamy, not marriage. If he is to remain "blameless," he can only have one wife, not several. That is where Paul makes his argument. He is not saying that the man must be married in order to be "blameless," for this would be an untruth. He is saying that the man cannot be "blameless" and practice polygamy! The same argument holds true concerning the overseer.

Compare this to a similar sentence construction found in First Corinthians 7.2. Paul said, But, because of fornications, LET EACH MAN HAVE HIS OWN WIFE, and let each woman have her own husband. Here, the apostle also used the imperative mode. It is a command from God. But, no one unreasonably concludes that an unconditional COMMAND TO BE MARRIED is under consideration. One does not have to be married to be a Christian.

It is understood that IF one cannot control his sex drive, he must get married. In First Timothy 3:12, IF the deacon is married, he must be married to only one wife. We should not conclude unreasonably (meaning, we have no reason given by God to do so) that a deacon, or an overseer, MUST BE MARRIED. The deacon, like the overseer, must be ABOVE REPROACH (v. 10). In order to be "above reproach," IF HE IS MARRIED, he must have only one wife. We do not conclude that the Christian of First Corinthians 7:2, MUST BE MARRIED, we should not conclude this about the overseer and the deacon of First Timothy 3. Of course, the same line of argument applies to Titus 1.

Assuming Paul to have taught that an elder/overseer/shepherd must be married in order to be better qualified to do the work God appointed, sets his "teaching" in contradiction to a truth expressed by the apostle in First Corinthians 7:32-34. The simple fact stated there is that the unmarried man and woman can serve God better than the married:

But I would have you to be free from cares. HE THAT IS UNMARRIED IS CAREFUL FOR THE THINGS OF THE LORD, how he may please the Lord: but he that is married is careful for the things of the world, how he may please his wife, and is divided. So also THE WOMAN THAT IS UNMARRIED AND THE VIRGIN IS CAREFUL FOR THE THINGS OF THE LORD, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit; but she that is married is careful for the things of the world, how she may please her husband.

Paul, an unmarried man at the time was in the best position to know this to be a fact. Certainly, he is not saying that only unmarried men and women can serve the Lord approvingly: He is not suggesting that married people are worldly and not capable of serving the Lord. It is a statement of fact that married people have other God-given responsibilities that will detract somewhat from the rest of the work God wants done. A married man can do an adequate job of shepherding the flock; a single man may do even better, according to the apostle Paul. The point to all of this is, that we should not interpret First Timothy 3:2 and Titus 1:6 as a "must be married" requirement for the shepherd.

The unmarried apostle Paul did his share of shepherding the sheep. In Acts 20, he called to his side the elders of Ephesus, reminding them that the Holy Spirit had made them overseers to the people of God in Ephesus. Furthermore, he rehearsed all he had done while working among them. Read Acts 20:17-35 carefully. His work was one of shepherding. Then he stated, "IN ALL THINGS I GAVE YOU AN EXAMPLE, THAT SO LABORING YE OUGHT TO HELP THE, WEAK..." (v. 35). If these elders wanted to know what "shepherding" was, all they had to do was to follow their "example," Paul. No, Paul is never called "elder," "overseer," or "shepherd," but, nevertheless, HE WAS ONE, FOR HE DID THE WORK, SHOWING others how it was to be done.

Taking Care Of The "Family" Of God that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (but if a man knoweth not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)--1 Tim. 3:4-5.

If any man is blameless, the husband of one wife, having children that believe, who are not accused of riot or unruly. For the bishop must be blameless. --Titus 1:6.

By combining these two statements of Paul, people have deduced that God wants only married family men to serve as elders/overseers/shepherds. We have shown in several ways why this does not have to be so understood. A man need not be married and have a family in order to be "blameless." IF he had unruly children, this would prove he could not "take care of the church of God." Look at the two writings carefully. Again, we see that

Timothy and Titus were given two different sets of information concerning the FAMILY situation. If it were absolutely necessary to have a house to rule, "proving" one could "take care of the house of God," why was this information not given to Titus? Here is another case where one of the recipients (in this case, Titus) did not receive what the other one did (Timothy). From this, we conclude that these statements are not "qualifications'' per se, but are examples wherein the shepherd may be evaluated concerning the requirement of "blamelessness." An older man, characterized by possessing a full list of spiritual values already discussed, may teach, encourage, edify, exhort, admonish, watch out for, and otherwise serve his brethren, fulfilling all that God requires from His shepherds--WHETHER MARRIED, WITH OR WITHOUT CHILDREN, OR SINGLE! Furthermore, he does not have to wait until the people "appoint him," before he does this work! (Please read this author's article, The Work Of Shepherding, in the Examiner, Vol. 4, No. 1).

Now, what if he is married and has children (child) who are unruly, disobedient and out of control. The matter is usually tolerated in the Institutional Church, where, if it becomes flagrant he may be asked to "step down," "resign," "turn in your key," or he may be "fired!" Of course, you will not find these expressions in the Bible. In reality, if the "sheep" see any signs of "blame" in a shepherd, such as "unruly children," they will not have respect for him, and undoubtedly will stop following his leadership. If his character becomes marred with habitual sin, there is provision for accusing an elder. "Against an elder receive not an accusation, except at the mouth of two or three witnesses. Them that sin reprove in the sight of all, that the rest also may be in fear" (1 Tim. 5:19-20). In the Institutional Church, if the faulty shepherd can keep the allegiance of his fellow-shepherds, they will insist that the congregation continue "to submit to their authority." And, he keeps his "office of a bishop."

Problems Begging For Solutions

In the beginning of this article, I drew attention to the fact that misunderstandings, opinions, and false assumptions over the subject of elders/overseers/shepherds have been the cause of fightings, strife and even divisions, among the people of God. Many problems have stemmed from the so-called "qualifications of elders," and the insistence that "marriage" and "family" are necessary prerequisites of qualification. Some dogmatically argue that they have the truth and that everyone must line up, be silent, or seek fellowship elsewhere, even though there are over thirty possible positions that can be taken, given the "marriage" and "family" requirements. What follows may seem ridiculous to many of you who are reading this, but I assure you that they represent "arguments" I have heard on behalf of various positions taken on the subject.

On the assumed position that a man MUST BE MARRIED: The wife of an elder dies and some say, "He must resign because he is no longer 'the husband of one wife." "But," is the response, "he had a wife which helped to qualify him, and he still retains that experience for continued service." "No, he is not AT THIS MOMENT 'the husband of one wife' and must, therefore, resign," is the argument from the first group.

The widowed elder marries again. "This is his SECOND wife," screams the third group, "and he is now disqualified to serve." "Absurd," responds the first group, "NOW, he IS qualified for RE-APPOINTMENT because once again, he is 'the husband of one wife.'" "But, he has had TWO wives which disqualifies him," declared the third group.

The wife of an elder divorces him. "He must step down," shout some of the people, "He is a divorcee." "But it wasn't his fault," others shout back, "He is the 'innocent party' and he is a good elder and still qualified." "He isn't 'the husband of one wife,'" a third group enjoins, "He is disqualified."

The divorced elder remarries. "He can't serve," some conclude, "A divorcee cannot remarry." "Of course he can," comes the response, "This has nothing to do with him being qualified to serve as an overseer." "I hate to remind you again, but he has had TWO wives and no longer qualifies," others insist.

On the assumption that "having believing children" and "having children in subjection" are "qualifications:" Some say, "He must have two or more children to qualify." "No, the word 'children' can sometimes represent 'one child,'" reply the dissenters. "We insist that 'children' means just what it says," declares the first group.

"Not only must he have children, but they must be 'believing' children," declares one group, "and that means they must be 'baptized believers.'" "Nonsense," another group says, "it just means that his children must be in subjection to the parents." "They must be Christians," insists the first group. "How many of them must be Christians?" someone asks. "At least half of them, I would say," comes the answer. "No way," shouts one faction, "All of them must be faithful Christians for their father to be an elder!" "But, he has twelve kids!"

"This man can't be an elder because he has children who have 'fallen away,'" states one faction. "Wait a minute, he still has 'believing children,' if he has only two," reasons another faction. "It doesn't matter," comes the reply, "He has proven that he cannot keep his house in order." "But his rebellious children didn't 'fall away' until they left home. Surely, he can't be held responsible for their actions after they are grown and leave home," suggests another faction. "He must not have brought them up in the 'nurture and admonition of the Lord,'" comes the retort.

We did not mean for the above to be humorous, and yet when you put down on paper the things you have heard brethren argue and debate about, they often look downright ludicrous. And these do not exhaust the scenarios to which I have been exposed. I have listened to discussions on "If a man has two children and one dies, can he become an overseer?" "Must an elder resign if one of his two children dies?" "Can a man be an overseer if his children are adopted?" "If only SOME are adopted?"


1. Obviously, something is wrong with the traditional understanding concerning the qualified overseer if there are so many divergent views. The results of the common approach to the subject has led to (1) factions, strife and divisions; (2) too many men chosen as elders/overseers/shepherds, who demonstrate by their own behavior, their lack of understanding regarding the work of shepherding; and (3) so much confusion that many have concluded either to pay lip-service to the existing farcical arrangement, or to ignore the concept altogether. Both of these conclusions are shameful, and yet, it is easy to empathize with the people.

2. There is no easy explanation of the problem. Any attempt sounds like an over-simplification. However, the root of the problem is easy to identify. Our brethren have become inflicted with a malady known as the INSTITUTIONAL CHURCH, invented by the Catholic Church and nurtured by the Churches of Protestantism! The "Authoritarian Eldership" is inseparable from the total package, and we bought it decades ago! It has grown to great proportions in my lifetime. It will get worse in time, just as the "Clergy' took the people of God into apostasy in the first century. As long as men love the preeminence and power, and aspire to control the lives of others, there will be the fertile soil conducive to "growing" an apostate church. THE TRUE, QUALIFIED OVERSEER OF GOD IS NOT PART OF THIS PROBLEM, ONLY THE DISTORTION IS!

3. We must eliminate the fighting and confusion concerning God's qualified shepherds. It will not be done by following the traditional approach, insisting there are all these "qualifications." The ONE QUALITY, "blameless" in all areas of his life, is so simple to understand, and it does not lend itself to bickering and fighting. It is natural and reasonable that we seek out and follow a shepherd who has the "mind of Christ," who sets the example of a Christian by his own life, who is able to teach, counsel, encourage, and rebuke if necessary, and who cares enough about our soul that if we should get into difficulty, he will be there to help us.

4. There is a tremendous need for more qualified overseers to lead the people of God. To accomplish this, we must (1) be willing to spend and be spent in serving others, spiritually and physically; (2) never allow a lust for power to distort our true mission, that of sharing the word of God with as many people as possible; (3) always studying and searching for new truths that will bring us closer to understanding His will; and (4) praying constantly for the well-being of our brethren.

5. There is more than enough work for the qualified shepherd to do. If he is really doing the work of shepherding, he will be too busy to "manage the corporation." Our spiritual work is far more important than that. How about it? Are you willing to give up the "plush synagogues" with their "chief seats," and being called "Rabbi, Father, Elder, Bishop, the Preacher, the Minister," and go into the "fields" where the sheep wait for you, and just be content to be their shepherd? May God hasten the day!