This is Part 9 of the Biblical Leadership Series. Click here to go to Part 1.
So far in this dive into the biblical qualifications for leadership, we have already discussed, in-depth, the spiritual, calling, capability, and family qualifications for Christian leadership. In this post, we will continue to look at the private life of the leader by looking at the emotional qualifications for Christian leadership.
Emotional Qualification 1: Lover of good (Titus 1:8)
At first glance, this qualification seems obvious. I mean, you cannot be a good leader but love it when bad things happen. It is usually in the stressful, negative moments of ministry that leaders have the most thoughts about throwing in the towel and doing something else. What kind of sane person would give their lives to ministry to enjoy the worst moments of life?
However, that isn’t exactly the meaning here. There is a nuance to what kind of “good” a person must be a lover of, and it has very little to do with the good of yourself. The Greek word used here specifically means loving the public good. In the Greco-Roman world, this trait would be “a characteristic of an especially respected and responsible citizen” of the empire.1
This means, that as a leader, in your emotional life, you do not spend your time thinking about your own welfare or problems. Rather, you spend your time delighting in purposes and making plans that will benefit the body of Christ and the community you are called to serve. Even in your most introspective self, you must be outwardly focused, and love it when good things come to those around you. You must not be guilty of the sin of jealousy or of comparison with others!
I believe this qualification will sum up the rest of the emotional qualifications. Unfortunately, this is a trait that is lacking in many leaders in the body of Christ. Too many are consumed with making things happen for their own benefit — overcoming their own problems, receiving their own blessings, and building up themselves — that they actually become jealous and spiteful toward others whose circumstances work out for the better.
A self-serving heart can not be a lover of the good of others, and therefore cannot qualify for biblical leadership.
Emotional Qualification 2: Sober-minded (1 Timothy 3:2, 11, 1 Peter 5:8)
This qualification is not specifically talking about being a drunkard. We will get to that in the next post when we discuss the character qualifications. Instead, being “sober-minded” means that as a leader you are emotionally cable of being sensible. It implies that you are level-headed or well-balanced in your thinking.
Most people get emotionally overwhelmed and cannot think straight in extreme circumstances. That is normal. However, ministers of the Lord are called to serve others in the most difficult and heart-wrenching times of their lives and should have a level of extra stability in their emotional balance. We must be capable of keeping our sensibilities at all times.
We must be aware that if we are easily overwhelmed emotionally, then we will struggle to stay tuned-in to the Lord in order to hear Him clearly or to lead others effectively.
In 1 Peter, he actually adds that we must be sober-minded and watchful, because our “adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” If we are unable to keep our thinking clear, we will be an easy target for him!
No Drama Queens
Another type of person who falls into this category of not being “sober-minded” is the leader who loves drama. They love it when there is controversy and things are out of balance between people. This kind of person loves to “stir the pot” and keep the confusing situations going. That is not a characteristic of an emotionally balanced person.
Not only should we value our own emotional stability, but we must encourage it in others as well.
To fulfill this qualification as leaders, we must be able to think clearly in every situation and to be able to submit our minds to the voice of the Lord, rather than getting knocked off track by overwhelming emotions.
Emotional Qualification 3: Not Arrogant (Titus 1:7)
Some people might list “not arrogant” among the character qualifications for leadership rather than emotional. However, as I was praying through them, I felt it is more fitting among the emotional qualities. That is because many people tie arrogance to the person’s public persona and appearance. Yet it is not only leaders who wear brand-name clothing, get expensive haircuts, and drive big black SUV’s with tinted windows who are capable of arrogance. (Nor do those things necessarily mean that those people are arrogant, either.) Instead, arrogance is first and foremost a condition of the heart. Yes, it has outward fruit, but it is an emotional trait first.
The biblical idea for not being arrogant means that the person should not be “self-important.” Just as the first qualification says they must be focused on the public good of others. This trait says that in our minds, we value others personally more than we value ourselves. Paul echos this sentiment in Philippians 2:3,
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”
When we truly view ourselves as less important than those we minister to, lowering ourselves in humility to serve, then our motives will never be self-willed. Instead, we will give our time and emotional energy to others, no matter their circumstances or character, because we truly value them more than we value ourselves.
Arrogance also carries the idea of primarily being concerned with your own interests. Again, this means that leaders who only look out for “number 1” (themselves), and resist things that do not glorify or validate themselves, are not qualified to lead God’s people.
Emotional Qualification 4: Not Double-Tongued (1 Timothy 3:8)
According to one lexicon, “in some languages the equivalent of [double tongued] is ‘to speak in two directions’ or ‘to cover one’s thoughts by means of one’s words.’”2 It means that when you open your mouth to speak, you are saying one thing while thinking or doing another. You are a hypocrite or “two-faced.”
The obvious outcome is that you are not a trustworthy person. If people doubt the sincerity of your words because your actions say otherwise (or because you say one thing to one person, but the opposite to another), then they will never be able to believe you as a person.
No One Follows Two-Faced Leaders
Sadly, in my own life, I have had a number of jobs where my manager was a “double-tongued” person. One boss, in particular, would give instructions to our team on how he wanted us to do our work. However, when his overseers were not happy with the work, my manager would blame us, telling his boss that he instructed us to do something else, but we failed to obey. Needless to say, his lack of integrity in this way made it difficult for people to work for him, and the rate at which people quit that job was high.
Within the church, where leaders are supposed to hold to the word of God with a clear conscience, it is difficult to teach people the truth, when our words and actions do not demonstrate them. We must have the emotional strength to speak honestly and tell the truth, even when it might cost us personally.
Emotional Qualification 5: Not Quick-Tempered (Titus 1:7)
This qualification simply means that your emotional state cannot be “always ready for a fight.” If your default personality qualification is that you are inclined to anger and short-tempered, then you will lack the grace to deal with God’s people effectively. You must not get offended quickly, whether it is by direct personal attacks or by the outward actions of others.
In the Bible, we do see Jesus getting frustrated at times, and He is even overcome with righteous anger when He made a whip and chased the money changers from the temple (John 2:15). However, as the physical representation of God (Colossians 1:15, John 1:14), Jesus’ default emotional state was “merciful and gracious” and “slow to anger” (Exodus 34:6). Remember, His name is “Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).
If we are going to be the hands and feet of Jesus in the world today, representing as the leaders of His church and servants of His Kingdom, then how can our emotional state be any different? If He is “slow to anger,” we must also be if we are going to be qualified to lead others for Him.
Emotional Qualification 6: Not Quarrelsome (1 Timothy 3:3)
In the same way as not being quick-tempered in how we respond to others, we must also not be out looking for a fight. The Greek word, here, means that we must be peace-makers. We cannot be contentious in our relationships to people, and especially in the things of God.
There are way too many self-proclaimed teachers of the Word of God who are simply making bold declarations, looking for an argument. They don’t speak from a conviction of truth. Instead, they want to fight and play “devil’s advocate.” (I cannot think of any role that should be less desirable to the servant of God than advocating for the devil.)
Beware Those Who Quarrel to Prove Themselves
One danger that is found in those who do not fulfill this emotional qualification is that they are quarreling with others, hoping it will somehow prove their own value and worth.
I personally believe the “not quarrelsome” requirement is especially necessary when evaluating younger men for ministry service, for this reason. Until the young man realizes that he does not know it all, and learns to lay down the prideful pursuit of “proving himself,” then he shouldn’t be given leadership over others.
Again, in humility and in truth, we should allow God to prove us, rather than looking for a fight to demonstrate our credibility or superiority.
Emotional Qualification 7: Not Greedy (1 Timothy 3:3,8, Titus 1:7, 1 Peter 5:2)
The final emotional qualification for leaders is that they are “not greedy.” This is one of the only qualifications which makes all three of the apostles’ lists.
At face value, it seems easy to understand. To Timothy, Paul says you cannot be a “lover of money.” To Titus he says, as Peter also writes, you cannot be “shamefully greedy.” Both of these statements mean that you cannot be obsessed with the pursuit of wealth or excessively hoarding of your finances.
If Peter and Paul saying the same thing is not enough, we must also remember the words of Jesus Himself:
No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” Luke 16:13
As we have discussed before, seeking financial gain is the absolute worst reason to get into ministry! But to add the weight of Jesus’ words to this reality, I will say this: if you are in Christian ministry for personal financial gain, you are disqualified and you need to quit, immediately. If you are actively pursuing money from your service to the body of Christ, you are not serving the Lord! (This does not mean pastors should necessarily work for free, but money should not be the motivation.)
Again, greedy people are the ones who abuse God’s flock by manipulating them for money. They will promise blessings that God never promised, and they will prostitute any spiritual gift God may have given to them, for their own gain.
I don’t know how to say it any more clearly than Jesus did. “You cannot serve God and money.” If you are going to serve God, then you must become like Paul, who says,
…I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:11-13
In the same vein, there are many leaders who are not in ministry for financial gain, yet they are still emotionally obsessed with money — usually the lack of it — and it prevents them from fulfilling the call of God on their lives.
In the case of “not being greedy,” the Greek language implies that in no way should our minds be obsessed with money, at all. While worrying about the lack of money is not the same sin as hoarding cash, it is still sinful, nonetheless.
God has revealed Himself to be Jehovah-Jireh, or “YHWH, Your Provider.” If we, then, doubt His provision and fail to do the work He has called us to because of lack, then we have sinned against Him. This is literally taking the name of the Lord in vain!
Confession: This is My Greatest Anxiety
To be transparent, this is the emotional qualification I need the most sanctification in. I used to have a small, framed quote in my office which said, “We have done so much, with so little, for so long, that we think we can do anything, with nothing, in no time flat.” I lived with a poverty mindset for a long time, always obsessing over what I lacked.
The Lord had to rebuke me for this attitude. While earthly appearances may show that my family are poor missionaries in East Africa, begging for money for every project or need. The truth is that we are servants in the Kingdom of God, and that we have access to the abundance of heaven to do anything He calls us to do.
This is a reality I have to remind myself of often, as the enemy is quick to prick my anxiety with a perception that there is not enough money for the ministry.
A Mindset of Trust
To fulfill the biblical qualification of “not greedy,” we must keep a balanced mind, focused on God as our provider in all circumstances. We cannot be seeking to get rich and hoard money. Neither can we be obsessed with our poverty, and desperate for where to get our needs met. We must trust Him alone, and handle our money as stewards of His gifts.
When He says save or invest, we do. When He says spend or give lavishly, we do. That is what it means to serve God instead of money. Any other mindset constantly fixed on money, is disqualifying for leadership.
To fulfill these emotional qualifications, we must have a balanced, stable state of mind. We should be able to think clearly and make decisions based on truth and the leading of the Holy Spirit, rather than the outcome or consequences.
We don’t look out for ourselves but focus on the public good. We don’t build ourselves up or try to prove ourselves to others by winning arguments. We don’t seek our own financial blessing over the needs of others. Instead, we keep a mindset of trust in the Lord to fight our battles and provide for our needs. Most of all, we are emotionally prepared to follow His will and do what He says at all times. Anything less than that is not acceptable to serve as a leader in the body of Christ.
1 William Arndt et al., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 1055.
2 Johannes P. Louw and Eugene Albert Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains (New York: United Bible Societies, 1996), 766.
This is an updated edition of a post originally published on Anthony Scott Ingram