Working definition of this leadership concept:
Leaders are not: arrogant, violent, quarrelsome, quick-tempered, or lovers of money (1 Timothy 3:1-13, Titus 1:5-8).
We are halfway through the alphabet and with the letter “N” we pause to reflect not on what leadership should look like but, instead, some contrasts – What healthy, Christian leadership does NOT look like. These "qualities to avoid" come from the lists of qualifications for church leaders in 1 Timothy and Titus.
We can see how these attributes contrast with leadership concepts we have already (or will soon have) covered in our series; Leaders are…
Benefits for leaders who avoid the “not’s”:
1. Arrogance blinds us and binds us. It keeps us from seeing the truth about ourselves and separates us from others. I believe pride is the flip-side of insecurity, like opposite sides of the same coin. Saying it another way, pride binds us to insecurity and the need to keep up performance and appearances. Cooperating with God as he roots out pride brings freedom and authenticity.
2. Being quarrelsome and quick-tempered escalates conflict whereas gentleness diffuses conflict and helps us work toward resolution.
3. Loving or being devoted to money leads one to have to serve money. It impairs one’s ability to wholeheartedly serve the Lord by offering the gift of leadership He’s given to serve the community. Jesus taught:
“24 ‘No one 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.’” (Matthew 6:24, ESV, emphasis mine)
Motives are complicated by having more than one master one is serving. When serving God alone, one is confident as a steward of His wealth and resources and is free to follow His agenda. This is the path of peace. A good friend shared, “I believe when you love money you are serving yourself and what you can get, not meeting needs at all except your own. Leaders can make it look pretty and have a following from their talent but God and His people are robbed.”
Benefits for the community where leaders avoid the “not’s:
1. Avoiding the pain and problems caused by arrogant, quarrelsome and quick-tempered leadership.
2. Leaders who are devoted to God, not money, are able to serve God and others whole-heartedly, resulting in the prospering of the community.
Biblical inspiration and support:
The following passages include lists of characteristics of Christian overseers or leaders:
“The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. 2 Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4 He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, 5 for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? 6 He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. 7 Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil. 8 Deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain. 9 They must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience.” (1 Timothy 3:1–9, ESV, emphasis mine)
“7 For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, 8 but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined.” (Titus 1:7–8, ESV, emphasis mine)
In the Titus passage we see the contrast again:
Not a drunkard
Not greedy for gain
Lover of good
As we look at the contrast in these passages, I think we see it illustrating further what it means to love God and others, the two great commandments (Luke 10:26–28). To love the Lord will all your heart, soul, mind and strength does not look like being greedy for gain but rather being a lover of good. Loving your neighbor as yourself does not look like being quick-tempered or violent but rather disciplined and hospitable.
Paint a picture in your mind.
Consider taking some time with the Bible passages in this blog and:
1) Bring to mind people you have encountered with the positive characteristics listed and recall how their behaviors and attitudes affected others.
2) Bring to mind people you have encountered with the characteristics to avoid listed and recall how their behaviors and attitudes affected others.
3) Spend some time praying and asking the Lord to reveal to you if there are any of the “Not’s” that are finding their way into your behavior and attitudes. Read through the scripture slowly. God uses His scripture to bring correction. If you notice an area where your attitudes and/or behavior are out of alignment with His word accept this revelation as the Lord’s invitation to walk in His ways through His power at work within us (as the apostle Paul teaches).
"20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen." (Ephesians 3:20–21, ESV)
Ask the Lord for forgiveness for being out of alignment with His will and ask for grace to be like the overseer described in His word. Ask Him for other people to walk alongside and help you.
I am praying for you, please feel free to reach out to me at email@example.com.
Comment: What leadership characteristics would you like to grow in?
Working definition of this leadership concept:
To be meek is to not be overly impressed by a sense of one’s own importance. It is to be considerate, humble and gentle. It is not to commend one’s self, boast or compare.
To be a leader is NOT to be more important than others, importance is not a matter of comparison. Each person is of such value to God that He sent his only Son to earth so that whoever trusts in Him would have eternal life. Christian leaders are to be meek – never overly impressed with themselves.
 Arndt, W., Danker, F. W., Bauer, W., & Gingrich, F. W. (2000). A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature (3rd ed., p. 861). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Benefits for leaders who are meek:
1. Meekness helps the leader keep expectations of themself as a leader in line. What does anyone have except what they have received? (1 Corinthians 4:7) Leadership is in part a spiritual gift. A leader is not to take credit for what they have received as a gift, but to steward it to serve God.
2. Meekness helps leaders keep the perspective that everything does not depend on them. Leaders are not God. They benefit from keeping their cosmic importance in perspective. This can help leaders recognize that there are other people that are able and willing to contribute making it easier to delegate and collaborate. Keeping one’s importance in perspective also helps leaders take time to rest and relax.
Benefits for the community where leaders are meek:
1. Leaders who are meek help cultivate a humble, considerate and gentle culture where people can be honest about their abilities and limitations.
2. Meekness is a way of avoiding the temptation to compare and find a “winner” and a loser (2 Corinthians 10:12). We are all servants, serving with what we’ve been given in the role God has given us with the grace He has given us. (Romans 12:3-8)
Biblical inspiration and support:
Sometimes contrast helps us understand a concept. So, the concept I offer in contrast to meekness is boasting. If meekness is not being overly impressed with your own importance, boasting is being overly impressed with your importance and seeking others would be impressed as well. Paul addresses this human desire by warning that we should think of ourselves with “sober judgment” and goes on to explain we are all a part of one body, a body that needs each member (See 1 Corinthians 12).
3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. 4 For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, 5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 6 Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; 7 if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; 8 the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.” (Romans 12:3–8, ESV)
And addressing boasting directly Paul teaches:
“17 “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” 18 For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.” (2 Corinthians 10:17–18, ESV)
Boasting’s close cousin is comparison. Meekness is a way of avoiding the temptation to compare and find a “winner” and a “loser”. We are all servants, serving with what we’ve been given in the role God has given us with the grace He has given us. (Romans 12:3-8).
This verse, preceding the passage above, speaks of the foolishness of comparison:
"12 Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding.” (2 Corinthians 10:12, ESV)
“...They are without understanding.” does not seem like a compliment. I think Paul is saying it is foolish to compare with each other. What is the antidote to boasting and comparing? I submit to you that it is putting on meekness.
“12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” (Colossians 3:12–13, ESV)
Paul chose some powerful and somewhat similar words to link together here: compassion, kindness, humility, patience and… meekness. This is how God’s chosen, holy and loved people are to be toward one another. We are to be considerate and meek.
Meekness is listed as a fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:23 (translated below as gentleness).
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.” (Galatians 5:22–26, ESV, emphasis mine)
It seems we do not just have meekness, it is something the Holy Spirit produces in us. As we abide in Christ like branches in a vine (John 15), the Spirit produces meekness in us. And in this passage again we see meekness related to not becoming conceited (Galatians 5:26)– not thinking too highly of yourself or of your importance.
In the first church my husband and I attended together after being married, we had a pastor with a PhD who was nearing retirement. He was a powerful orator and well respected. I remember driving in to the church parking lot early one frigid Sunday morning and seeing him in his suit shoveling the walk in the dark, a job that was assigned to someone else but at this moment was not completed and needed to be done. It made an impression on me. Another time I walked by the chapel and saw him on his hands and knees placing hymnbooks back in the small hymnbook shelf under each seat. He did not say anything about it, or make a big deal about it, he just humbly did what needed to be done. Those sightings made a big impression on me. That pastor did not have an inflated view of his importance. He was humble and willing to serve however was needed in the situation. I took inspiration from him and hope to serve in the same way, in meekness.
Questioning Your Importance:
Truth #1: You matter so much to God that he sent His Son Jesus that you could know Him and have eternal life (John 3:16). You are pricelessly important to God.
Truth #2: If you feel like you have the world on your shoulders, you are wrong. The world is resting on God’s shoulders.
Years ago, while in a counseling session I was telling the counselor all the reasons why I was exhausted and overwhelmed. He reached in a drawer and pulled out a foam ball model of the world and tossed it to me. He told me to put it on my shoulder. I understood exactly what he meant. I had gotten the wrong idea of my importance. I felt like everything depending on me, like all my loved ones’ happinesses depended on me… and well, they don’t. I am not God.
A parting word on love:
Meek leaders are not overly impressed with their own importance.
Comment: How have you seen leaders exhibit meekness as described in this post?
If that seems like a tall order, it is! Unconditional love is not something people muster up on their own. In order to love this way leaders, like everyone else, need to be vitally connected to the Lord Jesus– like branches connected to a vine (John 15) – receiving the love of Jesus and letting it flow through their lives to others.
Benefits for leaders who are loving:
1. Those who pursue loving others do not need to spend valuable energy and attention avoiding destructive behaviors.
2. Loving others catalyzes transformation in the leader.
Benefits for the community where leaders are loving:
1. Loving others enables leaders to go beyond just accomplishing goals to creating community culture, fostering collaboration and raising up new leadership.
2. Loved people are able to offer more of their creativity and passion to the team.
Biblical inspiration and support:
Recently a friend gave me a book, Renovated by Jim Wilder. While I was reading the first two chapters a thought stirred in me… What if the two greatest commandments are not just God’s demands on us, or even the path to a fruitful life… What if they are also God’s mode of transforming us?
According to Jesus himself, the greatest commandments are loving God and loving each other:
“34 But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. 35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36’“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?’ 37 And he said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.’” (Matthew 22:34–40, ESV).
It’s of utmost importance for Christian leaders to love God and to love others for so many reasons… because the Lord commanded us to do so, because that is the culture of the Kingdom of God, because that is what Jesus – the author and perfecter of our faith – modeled… but I am starting to wonder if, in addition to all of that, what if seeking to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and to love others as ourselves actually engages us in the process of God’s transformation in our lives? We are not able to truly love as Christ loves apart from God’s grace… but perhaps it is through the shaping that occurs as we continually turn our hearts toward a posture of loving God and others that we are transformed into those who love their enemies.*
So, although it doesn’t seem like “love” is critical to commercial success, it makes my Leadership A to Z list. The command to love is all over the New Testament, like in Paul’s letter to the churches in Rome:
“8 Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” (Romans 13:8–10, ESV, emphasis mine)
Again, if we pursue love, I do not think we are going to have to spend a lot of time trying to avoid all the “you shall not’s” because all the “you shall not’s” are not loving. If we point our attitudes and actions toward the target of love, we are going to be pleasing God and bringing Him glory.
And Paul seems realistic about the fact that it is not always going to be easy to love one another as he writes:
“I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:1–3, ESV, emphasis mine)
“12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.“ (Colossians 3:12–14, ESV, emphasis)
The statement “bearing with one another in love” (Ephesians 4:2, ESV) itself implies loving others is not always easy. Love requires commitment and effort. Yet, love binds all the other virtues listed together in perfect harmony (Colossians 3:14). Love is powerful.
We are called to be loving, and therefore I believe we are empowered by God’s grace to be loving. As we pursue loving God and loving others, we will not be spending so much time on avoiding quarreling, lying or other vices… we will be moving toward the thing that transforms us, others and therefore situations… God’s amazing Love.
* Wilder says in his book that Dallas Willard’s test of transformation was if one spontaneously loved their enemies.
 Wilder, Jim, Renovated (NavPress: Colorado Springs, CO, 2020), 3.
During the pandemic we are all struggling. There has been a lot of disagreement and isolation. During the last year I started noticing that people often seemed ill at ease during conversations. It seemed like they were wondering if they were going to be rejected as they interacted with me. I have a desire to create hospitable space for people, and so I tried to apply the scripture, “…perfect love drives out fear…” (1 John 4:18, NIV) by attempting to create a safe space for people in conversation with me. So I’ve been experimenting with how I might do that. I now make an effort to take time with the Lord before meetings to get my own needs of acceptance met so I can offer acceptance more freely. I ask the Lord to fill me with His love for the person I am about to meet with and to help me be hospitable to them. I ask for the ability to see things from their point of view. During meetings I have tried to go out of my way to let people know that I am committed to the relationship, even if we are disagreeing or having difficulty connecting. I take extra care to communicate what the relationship means to me. It seems that if the person feels secure in our relationship, we might actually get somewhere in the conversation. If they do not, misunderstandings abound and estrangement is likely. When things are challenging, I am trying to gently pursue the other person instead of interpreting the tension as rejection and drifting out of relationship. Love is powerful… and I am exploring ways to communicate love to people and so set them at ease.
The One Jesus Loves.
The author of the Gospel of John describes one disciple as “the one whom Jesus loved,” presumably to avoid saying His own name as he referred to himself (see John 13:23, 20:2, 21:7, 21:20 . What a powerful conviction he had about his own identity! It seems he believed that the most foundational truth about him was that he was the one Jesus loves. What about us? What is our most foundational belief about ourselves? How would we describe ourselves? Does it seem a bit forward or presumptuous to call yourself the one Jesus loves?
Because you are the one Jesus loves.
If you are not sure of this, spend some time in these Scriptures and ask the Holy Spirit to guide you into the truth:
John 15:9-12; 16:26-27
Ephesians 5:1-2, 25
2 Thessalonians 2:16-17
1 John 3:1-2
I invite you to spend a few minutes each morning this week, in the quiet, alone with the Lord in prayer, trying on this truth: “I am the one Jesus loves.”
Then, take one more minute to imagine the people you will come across during the next 24 hours, and recognize that they are the one Jesus loves. Pray that they would know Jesus if they do not, and that they would receive His love and would come to know they are the one Jesus loves. (This is fun to do in silent prayer when you are in meetings as well. It often softens my heart toward the other people in the room and helps me be more sensitive to what God’s goals in the situation might be.)
(This is my adaptation of a spiritual exercise called the Long Loving Gaze that was introduced to me by a Spiritual Director who had learned it in studying Ignatius of Loyola.)
A parting word on love:
Love transforms individuals and communities.
Comment: What helps you “bear with one another in love”? (See Ephesians 4:2 and Colossians 3:13)
Time for a Mid-Series Pause.
The blog was not coming together this week and as I prayed about what to do, I felt the Lord guiding me to take a week off. I hope that by doing that, you might also give yourself, even as a leader, the same grace to take a week off.
I’ve heard that one of the definitions of the word sabbath is to pause for now.
I invite you, dear leader, to pause for now.
See you next week.
Comment: What benefits do you experience when you pause or take a break?
Hi! I'm Jeri Howe.
This website uses marketing and tracking technologies. Opting out of this will opt you out of all cookies, except for those needed to run the website. Note that some products may not work as well without tracking cookies.Opt Out of Cookies