Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil, I Timothy 3:6.
Just what did Paul mean when he said, the condemnation of the devil? To understand that we need to look at Ezekiel 28 wherein the fall of the anointed Cherub is well documented. When we look, we find this gem; Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee to the ground, I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee, Ezekiel 28:17. Just how did the devil's brightness corrupt his wisdom?
As the anointed Cherub that covereth, he carried God's light. His brightness was a direct reflection of his closeness to God. When I was a young preacher, a novice, I sometimes was given insights by the word of God that eclipsed even my teachers' insights on a narrow subject. God often grants this grace to young aspiring preachers and students of the word of God. It is always a joy to me when one of my students is given such an insight and can expound it to me in humility and wisdom.
Many times after such an insight, I would get in the pulpit and preach using that very insight which was holy and from God. I would watch experienced preachers and mature church members murmur with delight at the grace and wisdom I showed. The problem with that is that I didn't have a life that matched the insight. I wasn't living in fornication and I wasn't extorting money, but when I look back on those days, I see a young man who though outwardly had the appearance of a mature Christian, and in fact could easily have impressed an ordination board, I spent more of each day walking in my carnal nature then in walking in the Spirit.
I was often overthrown with pride and my wisdom would be corrupted when I was given overmuch applause. The cause of my fall was never some creepy sin, it was all too often the very brightness given to me by God. Part of the duty of the Bishop of a church is to insure that the man in front of him preparing to be ordained into an executive office within the church is seasoned enough in the grace of God that he could never be considered a novice. His very talents and brightness will be turned against him.
I cannot read 2nd Corinthians 4:2 without lowering my head in shame. But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. It was easy and profitable for me to renounce the obvious open sins of life. How I prospered when the Lord took fornication, alcohol, evil communications and uncleanness away from me!
It was the hidden things of dishonesty that continually defiled me. To fudge on a tax form or a bill of sale was second nature to me. Little white lies seemed to keep me out of trouble. All of that time I was a grief to the Spirit of God. I have learned that the Lord will oft times give great insights and blessings to the newest and even weakest saints of God. He tenderly wraps those same blessings in his chastening. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby, Hebrews 12:11.
A man is never ready to be a bishop who has not experienced seasons of blessings and chastisement that have effectively purged the rascal inside of him. My God has put me through things that I would not unleash on my worst enemy. I have watched foes mock me and friends turn their heads away at the severity of God's rebuke in my life. He has never forsaken me. He forsook Jesus Christ on the cross for a season (Psalms 22:1) and will never forsake him again. I am in Christ.
God did not make me the Bishop of the Black Creek Baptist Church until I was 53 years old. I have seen men successfully be bishops at an earlier age, but they will testify to you of cycles of blessings and chastisement that are not for the novice. Rehoboam was 41 years old when he became the King of Israel and yet King Abijah under the anointing and inspiration of God described him in rebuke to Jeroboam; And there are gathered unto him vain men, the children of Belial, and have strengthened themselves against Rehoboam the son of Solomon, when Rehoboam was young and tenderhearted, and could not withstand them, 2nd Chronicles 13:7. (Thank you for that insight Brother McVey.)
Part of the destruction of our Western churches has been the reluctance of young men to grow up. The men who stood in row after row at Gettysburg and Antietam were often 16 and 17 year old men who after the war were able to settle down and earn a living, marry a wife and raise a family. Our government now considers 26 year olds to be juveniles and sadly that can be seen reflected in our churches.
Too many churches are occupied by men demoralized over their calling and utterly ineffectual in advancing the Kingdom of God through the Church of our Lord Jesus Christ. These men often shrink in fear for their livelihood. They are capable of great preaching on occasion. What they do not have is the ability to be consistent. They cling to their position through church politics. They fear the rebuke of their peers. They view every new thought and concept through the lens of how they will be received in their standing with the brethren. Such men should be under a bishop. They should not be a bishop.