Leadership Qualities

In 1 Tim 3, Paul instructs Timothy on what qualifies, and disqualifies, a man for leadership. One thing that shows up – twice – in that passage is that a man be a good father and husband. I’d like to expand on that second part of that. Leadership of any kind is a privilege and an honour, but it is also a burden – or at least it is when it’s done correctly. Biblical leadership is servant based, not “I am your leader do what I say!”  Servant-leadership costs, and the better a person is at being a servant-leader, the more it costs.

“So?” you say. If a couple has marriage problems, they need to be putting their time and energy into that. You don’t want people with significant marital issues leading for several reasons.

  • They cannot have the time and energy to deal with their marriage issues and be proper servant-leaders; at best they will succeed at one task to the determent of the other, more likely still, they will end up failing at both.
  • Leaders influence and teach, drawing on what they know and live. Who wants someone with marriage problems sharing that with others?
  • It’s easy to feel fulfilled by leadership, and to focus on that “success” of leadership rather than the “failures” of marriage. This becomes like the man who works too much because it makes him feel better about his poor marriage.
  • The spouse who needs to make changes in their marriage can play the I-was-chosen-as-a-leader card as “proof” that they are fine.
  • The couple may both take leadership as a sign that they are really okay. It becomes a way of not dealing with something they don’t want to deal with – but need to deal with!
  • Leadership often puts us in close relation with troubled people, and someone with marital problems does not need the added opportunity for lust and sexual sin.

Note I said “significant marital issues” above. None of us is perfect, and all leaders have issues that need attention. What matters are how big the issue is, how long it’s been there, and most importantly is it being working on it successfully. Personally, I’d rather have a leader with a C- but improving marriage than one with a B+ but not growing marriage. To me, moving in the right way is far more important than where one is at any moment. Standing still is bad (and rarely a long-term thing) while losing ground is a cause for deep concern.

Bottom lines:

  • If you have any kind of leadership position, maintaining and improving your marriage is a vital part of being a good, and a qualified, leader.
  • If you have oversight of leaders, you need to know that their marriages are strong and growing.
  • If you want to be a leader, more work on things at home may be a necessary step.

Links to blog posts that stood out to me this last week:

Better Husbands and Fathers

This is a Husband…This is a Husband on Stress: A great article – have you and your bride discussed how each of you deals with stress?
Christmas Gift Ideas for your Wife: More wife gift tips.

Black and Married with Kids

“Harmless Flirting” Yeah Right!: This is a couple weeks old – I thought I had mentioned it, bur realised I had not when a friend suggested I should share it. Flirting is never harmless if you are married!
Is it Okay To Befriend The Opposite Sex?: Some good thoughts on how one handles opposite sex friends.
Pots in My Refrigerator: Managing Pet Peeves: An excellent reminder that some things are not as big as we make them.

Happily Married After

Marriage is a Book, Not A Chapter, Page, or Paragraph: Are you stuck on one page?

Intimacy in Marriage

An Important Follow Up on the Oral Sex Post: Julie replies to comments that I and anther made to her oral sex post, and the result is SPOT.ON. If your bride is not orally inclined, check this post.

Marriage Gems

How Dreams Help Us Overcome Loss, Benefits of Sharing Dreams with Spouse and Enhance the Resilience of Your Relationship: Two more good posts based on the book Healing Together.

One Flesh Marriage

The Guy’s Gift Guide to Rock Your Wife’s World : What it took me a week to do, Brad did in one post in which he suggests gifts based on her love language.

The Romantic Vineyard

Be Clothed in Meekness: How are you at “overlooking an offense”?
Baby, It’s Cold Outside!: Some great tips on fun indoors by someone who’s lows have been where the highs have been here.

Simple Marriage

5 Steps To A Genuine Apology: This is excellent! If your apologies fall flat, read and heed!

6 Comments on “Leadership Qualities

  1. While I agree with what you said, and 1 Tim 3 certainly does mean a leader should be a good husband and father, but that is not what it says. It says:

    1Ti 3:2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of ONE WIFE, vigilant, sober, of good behavior, given to hospitality, apt to teach;
    1Ti 3:3 Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous;
    1Ti 3:4 One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity;

    In today’s world not only do we see folks who claim to be Christians and are divorced and remarried while their covenant spouse is still living, we see so called pastors that are remarried after divorce and have a living covenant spouse!

    Jesus and Paul both thought that remarriage after divorce is adultery, and Jesus th0ught very clearly that adulterers will not inherit the kingdom of God, i.e. will not go to heaven. Remarriage after divorce is a salvation issue and we not only have pastors that do not teach people that, but we have pastors who are in adulterous marriages themselves!

    Yes, I agree with what you said in this article, but you the Bible and Jesus teach it much stronger that you did.

    • @Tebo – I will not argue with you that divorce is a huge problem in our churches, and clearly, any sin is a salvation issue for those who have not accepted Jesus as Saviour.

      The meaning of “husband of one wife” is a challenge. That this is to exclude those who have divorced and remarried is tempting, but it makes divorce an unforgivable sin – or at least one that forever prevents someone from being in leadership. When we understand that this is written by a man who was a party to the murder of Christians, it seems odd to think one may murder, repent, and lead, not divorce, repent, and lead. Besides, if this is what Paul meant, then why not say “never divorced”? This would be far clearer – so why not say it this way? Perhaps because that is not what he meant.

      If we take it mean one wife for life, which is how we must read it if it’s to not allow divorce, then we must also exclude those who are unmarried (elsewhere Paul suggests being single is better) and those who are remarried after the death of their spouse (and Paul encourages remarriage). Some have suggested both of these, but this clashes with other Scriptures.

      Some say this passage is to prevent a bigamist from being a leader. There is debate about how much polygamy there was at that time, but there is historical evidence it did exist, and was still practiced by some Jews. This is a nice fit because it is supported by the OT command for kings to not “multiply wives.” While God allowed multiple wives (no doubt because of the hardness of hearts) He did not want the highest leaders to do this. It is also reported that this was a common understanding by the early church. On the other hand, I’ve seen several Greek scholars say the grammar here really does not support this meaning.

      A possibility that does not get a lot of discussion is that the Greek phrase means something other how we have literally translated it. I’ve seen some Greek scholars suggest that grammatically and contextually none of the above work, and that we might do better to read this as “a one-wife sort of a husband,” or “a one-woman sort of man.”

      That seems a good fit to me because it is, like the other things in the passage, about the CHARACTER of the man. If you read the whole chapter, all the other “qualifications” are character issues. Making this a character issue means it fits with all the other requirements. It also solves the problems I have suggested with other readings. Beyond that, it puts a far greater requirement on the husband. He needs to be a good, loving, and devoted husband.

      On a similar note, in 1 Tim 5:9 Paul tells Timothy that a widow cannot be put on the list (of those helped by the church) unless she has been the wife of one man. HOWEVER, he then says that young widows (those under 60) should remarry. If we read the “one husband” clause here as meaning married only once, then Paul is telling the young widows to do something that forfeits their right to receive help from the church if their second husband dies. This does not seem like a sane set of thoughts! Perhaps here too we need to see “a one man woman”.

      No doubt, my comments will bring about some debate – just tossing it out for thought. A good article that includes quotes from several I have read on this issue is http://www.thegracetabernacle.org/studies/gtsn_1wife.html .

  2. I find much of your commentary on sexuality to be difficult to endure. While my wife is a good Christian woman, and generally fulfills what she feels is required by her for me sexually, she has little interest in sex for herself, and becomes extremely hurt or angry whenever I try to talk about our sex life or ask for anything new. She does oral sex occasionally (yet briefly) but gets uncomfortable if I mention it, ask for it, or even thank her for it. I think alot of what you say regarding sexuality is spot on, but I’d love it if the generous wife (which she does read) could be “coordinated” a bit with your posts so maybe it could spur her to consider some of the concepts you are sharing with us guys.

    • @Josh – My bride DOES say these things to her list. Just over a week ago she wrote a post entitled “Have More” which was all about having more sex.

      Unfortunately most women who are holding back sexually need far more than a few posts about having more sex to have more sex. There is something in her mind that is keeping her from wanting, or she wants but can’t enjoy, or she feels guilty, or dirty, or she has been abused, or …

      For most women there are also relationship issues that are adding to the problems – which is why I hit those things regularly here, so guys can deal with those and give their bride fewer reasons to not want or not enjoy sex.

      A “sexual awakening” (as some call it) is a wonderful thing, but it can only happen after a woman makes decisions to allow it to happen. Those decisions are then, usually, followed by some hard work to get past all the blocks.

      In some ways it’s a lot like a guy getting free of porn. First he has to want to, and then the work begins. Even when he is doing good, it is possible to slip back into his old ways.

      Please know that Lori is very much interested in helping women to enjoy sex more, and prays about what she can do to help that occur.

  3. Wow! what a wonderful reminder and yes very hard lesson! I especially liked your comment: “I’d rather have a leader with a C- but improving marriage than one with a B+ but not growing marriage”
    I know in my own path there have been times when I have not shown my appreciation for or given focus on the role of husband and father that I had been given in my marriage! I almost neglected to see my wife and family as a part of my ministry and instead saw them as support for what I doing. I missed the call on my life to be a good husband, to be a good father and instead focused on the call that came later to be a good leader. Both roles take time, focus and priority! Somehow the idea of being a good Godly leader would often win out, over my family and marriage. Then my time with them would go the way of one more meeting, one more person to help, one more opportunity!
    Fortunately God shook me awake from this missing focus on my marriage and my family. I reprioritized, recognized that my wife and my family is a significant calling in my life and started to act like it! Guess what! My ministry and my leadership has not suffered, to the contrary they have grown, EVEN with the decrease in time that I have given them! Why? Because exactly what you shared! God desires leaders to be faithful in the marriage!
    Thank you for this awesome reminder!

  4. @Brad – Thanks for the support on this idea! I understand seeing one’s bride as a support for “what God has called me to”. How do we fall for such an obvious lie? Putting her in that position hobbles both our marraige and our ministry.

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