…not quick-tempered (Titus 1:7b)
And elder must be “not quick-tempered.” Notice, Paul doesn’t say an elder should never get angry, but rather that he should not be quick to anger.
A “quick-tempered” person can go from “0-60” on the anger scale in less than a second. He is like the proverbial time-bomb who jumps to conclusions and is set-off by the least little thing.
There are some other passages of scripture that help describe the problem of “quick-temperedness.” Proverbs tells us only a fool gives “full-vent” to his anger (Prov. 29:11). James tell us we should be “quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger” (James 1:19). Incidentally, James says a lot of other great things about anger in his first chapter.
So “quick-temperedness” is not a desired trait for anyone, and certainly not for a follower of Jesus who wants to set a good example. Even non-believers know they need to control their tongues and their actions for the welfare of all and the future of their relationships with others.
As well, secular leaders with quick tempers are not usually effective for long. Leaders need to be angry at the right things, but if they are angry about everything they are not likely to build the kinds of teams that endure.
And so we come to spiritual leadership and the subject of anger. Please know, this morning’s passage does not suggest a spiritual leader should never be angry, but in my humble opinion his expressions of anger should be very carefully placed, appropriate to their audience, and righteous in their cause.
I don’t have the perfect test for righteous and unrighteous anger, but experience tells me destructive anger is the kind we show when we don’t get our way or someone disagrees with us. Constructive anger is what we show when we see an injustice, or a moral wrong. But even in these cases, anger that leads is not “vented” but carefully directed.
We all need a place to vent. I have people in my life who are willing to listen patiently while I blow off steam. They also give me direction on a course of action. However, venting anger is not leadership. Those who believe it is should not lead.
This area is going to be a bigger challenge for some than others. By nature, I am pretty even-keeled unless I am tired (then, look out). I can take in a lot of frustration, but I have to be careful because when I reach my limit I might cash in everything on the people who happen to be around at the time. Others are more quick-tempered, sometimes by nature, and sometimes because they work or live in environments where they are under constant pressure.
God can help us manage our anger as He continues to work on our passions and priorities in life, and teaches us to be better listeners. I believe He also give us the wisdom to know how to redirect our anger, even if it means we put on some jogging shoes and run until we drop.
I have been there more than once.
Dear God, help me be quick to do the right things. In Jesus’ name, Amen.