||“A Noble Task”: The Ministry of +Archbishop Job|
by David Barrett
With the passing into eternal life of our beloved +Archbishop Job, one is reminded of the words of St Paul in his First Epistle to Timothy: “The saying is sure: If any one aspires to the office of bishop, he desires a noble task!” (3:1) Now, His Eminence never aspired to the office of bishop; in fact, as with most good bishops in the Church’s history, he avoided the position until it was clear that God and the Church were calling him to it. However, the characteristics of a bishop as enumerated by St Paul in 1 Timothy 3 are indicative of his ministry.
The Scriptural Qualities of a Bishop
St Paul’s scriptural list of the qualities that a bishop must possess were ones that His Eminence took seriously. Except for the ones that did not apply to the situation (such as “the husband of one wife” and “[managing] his own household well, keeping his children submissive and respectful in every way”), the remaining qualities form a list that describes his ministry quite accurately.
Of especial note is the first quality listed, that “a bishop must be above reproach” (3:2). +Archbishop Job’s conduct was precisely that! During the recent crisis in our Church, his was the voice of reason, truth, love, accountability, and acknowledgement of reality. In fact, he even confessed his own shortcomings in admitting that he, along with his brother bishops, was not as aware and as watchful as he should have been during the years that the financial improprieties were taking place. When verbally attacked by Bishop +Nikolai for actions of which he (+Archbishop Job) was innocent (i.e., inappropriately interfering in the affairs of the Diocese of Alaska), His Eminence prostrated himself before +Nikolai and asked for his forgiveness, for the sake of the Church and the unity of the Synod of Bishops! Truly, a bishop who courageously stands and is counted for the truth while publicly acknowledging his own sins, is above reproach!
St Paul states that a bishop must be “temperate, sensible, dignified, hospitable, [and] an apt teacher” (3:2). His Eminence was all of these things. During times of tribulation, attack, and public rebuke, his demeanor was always temperate. He was a sensible man, “speaking the truth in love” (Eph 4:15), calling for acknowledgement of facts, accountability, and repentance of sins. He treated everyone, even his attackers, in a dignified and hospitable manner. And, most important, he was an apt teacher, not only in his words, his sermons, and his talks, but especially in his behavior. He modeled not only how a bishop should behave, but all Christians as well.
He was “... not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, and no lover of money” (1 Tim 3:3). Again, his manner was one of gentleness with all. He tried resolving quarrels with reason, compassion, and common sense. He was “not…a recent convert,” so he was not “puffed up with conceit [to] fall into the condemnation of the devil” (3:6). Very importantly, “he [was] well thought of by outsiders” (3:7). In both dioceses that he served as bishop, as well as in Western Pennsylvania where he began his priestly ministry, His Eminence represented the Orthodox Church to the community at large in a most Christ-like manner, loving and respecting everyone he met, taking the time to listen, really listen to what people had to say.
He touched so many lives in his brief exile in this world. Many of the “kids” from the Diocese of New England, who fondly remember him from their Youth Rally days and are now adult faithful within their parish communities, had their lives changed for the better by the Archbishop. Quite a few made the long trek to Pennsylvania to the funeral to escort their beloved father into the Kingdom! He served the Orthodox Church in America so faithfully and so well for so long. Now, as we struggle with our personal grief at his passing, may we be comforted in knowing that we have a faithful intercessor on our behalf, standing before the throne of God, praying for each of us personally and also corporately for our beloved Orthodox Church in America.
May his memory be eternal!