Bad and Bitter Temper

For a bishop must be blameless… not quick tempered. (Titus 1:7)

As Paul listed the list of qualifications for leaders among God’s people, one quality mentioned – coming as the third or fourth, depending on how one counts – is that the bishop, the overseer, the leader among God’s people must not be quick tempered.

god willed not self willed

When we read the words “quick tempered,” we think of sudden, explosive flashes of anger and bad temper. Those are bad qualities for any leader, especially someone who leads God’s people. We remember that one fruit of the Spirit is self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). Some of us have more of a problem with a bad temper than others, but every leader should know what it is to have self-control at work in their life as a fruit of the Spirit.

Nevertheless, according to William Barclay, the word translated quick tempered (orgilos) actually refers more to a settled state of anger than the flash of an occasional bad temper. It speaks of a man who has a constant simmering anger and who nourishes his anger against others – something close to the idea of a bitter man.

While not eliminated the normal sense of quick tempered, we can add to it the idea suggested by William Barclay. The man who lives with a constant sense of anger, displeasure, and bitterness isn’t ready for Christian leadership.

This is an important thing to keep in mind as we appoint and recognize leaders. But this is also something for those who are currently leaders to consider. It is a common thing for Christian leaders to be treated poorly by others, or at least to believe they have been treated poorly. Sometimes this is just a problem really caused by the leader, sometimes it isn’t the leader’s fault, and other times it is a mixture of the two. Whatever the reason, it’s common for leaders, from time to time, to feel hurt and even burned in the ministry. The responsibility and pressure of Christian leadership often adds to the pressure and feeling of hurt.

This is why it’s so important that leaders don’t live in a sustained state of anger and frustration. If they allow the inevitable hurts and difficulties of ministry to make them constantly angry and bitter, that’s big trouble. Like every believer, the Christian leader must learn how to cast those cares on Jesus, who cares for them (1 Peter 5:7).

There might be no more miserable creature than the angry, bitter, suspicious servant of God. Because of past hurts and disappointments, they believe plots are constantly being constructed against them. They trust very few people (if any at all), and they have a sour edge to their personality.

Again, we do what God invites us to do in 1 Peter 5:7: we cast all those cares upon Jesus, who endured more hurt and betrayal than anyone else. Jesus knows what you’re going through. We pray earnestly that God would give us leaders who are not quick tempered, and that we would not become people of bitter bad temper.

Click here for David’s commentary on Titus 1

1 reply
  1. John Davis
    John Davis says:

    This is so true…and great encouragement as ministers of the gospel. There are traps and pitfalls the enemy lays before us. These traps can allow us to become bitter and hold onto hurts by the sheep. We lose our joy, our trust of others, our desire to have meaningful relationships and even our calling with anointing is affected. We must be aware of these traps and pitfalls…we must forgive and love as our Savior did…we must lay everything down and continually be filled by His Spirit that will bring freedom and love to our life…and freedom from bitterness.


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