Angry Pastors and Elders!?!? (Ash)

The Heart of Anger: How the Bible Transforms Anger in Our Understanding and Experience - Ash, Christopher; Midgley, Steve - 9781433568480

One of the qualifications for a man to serve as an elder or pastor in Christ’s church is that he must not be an angry man. If a man in the church has a hot temper or is known to explode in rage he is not elder material. If a hot-headed man wishes to become a pastor, his anger is a disqualifying vice. Paul says this in Titus 1:7 and 1 Timothy 3:2-3: “…An overseer must be blameless as one entrusted with God’s work… not prone to anger… temperate, self controlled, not violent, but gentle...” (NET). (Having said this, by God’s grace and with the help of the Spirit, it is possible for Christian men to learn to control their anger and become more patient and gentle.)

Speaking of angry church leaders, I appreciate what Christopher Ash and Steve Midgley wrote about this in The Heart of Anger:

These instructions [in Titus 1:7 and 1 Timothy 2:2-3] aren’t intended, of course, to exclude passion. Leaders in God’s church should be passionately concerned about God’s kingdom; passionately committed to justice; passionate in their determination to care for those who suffer. But their passion should never cause them to confuse their own role with God’s. For when that happens servant leadership morphs into ungodly dictatorship. Gentleness gives way to bullying, and shepherding love to manipulative control. Recent church history includes far too many examples of those whose leadership has run aground on precisely this issue.

However great the provocation, anger is a snare that church leaders must avoid. As they see God’s will being resisted, they can and should warn, they can and should grieve, but they must not take offense as if they were the one being affronted. …Paul urges obedience in clear and forthright terms [in 1 Thess. 4:1-8]….

When leaders fall into the error of elevating themselves to a quasi-divine status, a problem with anger won’t be far behind. The antitode is for leaders to constantly remember to point beyond themselves to the one who really does sit upon the throne and whose rule is the ultimate rule. Humility, peace making, and godly confrontation will be the result.

Christopher Ash and Steve Midgley, The Heart of Anger, p. 48-50.

Shane Lems
Hammond, WI, 54015