Summary: Paul sets before us a worthy goal-which most of us will work on for a lifetime
It’s interesting that Paul uses four negative expressions to specify how the godly leader must live. Some things simply must not be present in his
life. Those four are counter-balanced by one positive characteristic.
1. Not violent 1 Timothy 3:3
I like the King James rendering-"Not a striker." That says it all. A "striker" is a violent person who is easily angered. Such people tend to be assertive, manipulative, demanding, coercive and highly critical of others. They are quick to pick fights and slow to make up afterwards.
The term warns again those who use physical abuse, verbal abuse, mental abuse or emotional abuse in order to get their way. Paul’s command is simple: Don’t choose a person like that as a leader!
2. Not quarrelsome 1 Timothy 3:3
Again the King James uses a picturesque phrase-"not a brawler." Some people just love to pick fights. They love to argue, love to "mix it up," love to trade insults and put other people down. Such a man is the master of the cutting remark, the king of the cute comeback. Proverbs 20:3 says, "It is to a man’s honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel." Do you know how to spot this person? In any group, this man (or woman) dominates the discussion by arguing every point into the ground. He can always find a thousand reasons why a new idea won’t work.
When challenged, he sends out the clear message: "My way or the highway."
By contrast, the godly leader is uncontentious, willing to listen, not argumentative, not given to a fighting spirit. He is a peace-maker, but not a peace-breaker.
3. Not quick-tempered Titus 1:7
The word means "not passionate." Moffatt translates it as "not hot-tempered," while the New Testament in Basic English says "not quickly moved to wrath." It describes a person who doesn’t blow his top whenever
he gets angry. Proverbs 29:22 warns us about this tendency: "An angry man stirs up dissension, and a hot-tempered one commits many sins." Let’s be clear on this point. There is such a thing as right-eous anger (Ephesians 4:26), and there are times when leaders need to be angry. No one wants a leader who always smiles and never frowns. No one wants a
leader who lives in Fantasyland and thinks everyday is Christmas. We need leaders who know how to get angry at the right time for the right reasons in the right way.
But Paul is warning us against putting a "hot-head" on the Board of Elders. Don’t do it. One hot-head can destroy the work of a dozen godly men. Leaders deal with people and their problems. And sometimes people
can be frustrating and the problems can be annoying. Godly leaders know how to remain calm under pressure and provocation.
4. Not overbearing Titus 1:7
The word literally means "not self-pleasing." It describes a person who is free from arrogant self-will, who does not always have to have his own
way. Some people refuse to listen to others because their own concern is promoting their own agenda. They aren’t team players. Very well, then, don’t elect such a person to any position of leadership.
5. Gentle 1 Timothy 3:3
The scholars tell us that this word is difficult to translate because it contains so many delicate nuances. It has the idea of patience, forbearance, consideration and personal kindness. It describes a person who considers the whole picture before acting. A gentle leader protects and does not humiliate. He "guards each man’s dignity and saves each
man’s pride." In making a decision he judges both the letter and the spirit of the law. He is willing to lose even when he is right. He is willing to yield, willing to forgive, willing to overlook. Matthew Arnold calls this quality "sweet reasonableness." You know it when you see it because the person who has it always makes you feel better when you are around them.
It’s doubly important for elders to have this quality because elders lead the sheep. They don’t drive them, beat them or harass them. Gentleness is important because sheep can be exasperating at times!