6 Leadership Principles from the Old Testament

Don’t argue if you’re angry.

“Wait a minute,” you may be thinking. “Do you mean I’m never supposed to disagree with anyone?”

That’s not it at all! The Bible simply teaches that when we differ with someone, we shouldn’t quarrel. We can disagree, but we don’t have to be harsh.

The following principles from Proverbs point out that when we’re at odds with someone, anger doesn’t pay.

1. Self-control is paramount. Proverbs 29:11 (CSB) says, “A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man holds it in check.”  

2. People shouldn’t be protected from the consequences of their anger. “A hot-tempered person must pay the penalty; rescue them, and you will have to do it again” (Prov. 19:19, NIV).

3. Heated arguments don’t end well. “Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam; so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out” (Prov. 17:14, NIV).

4. Being quiet keeps us out of trouble. “The one who guards his mouth and tongue keeps himself out of trouble” (Prov. 21:23, CSB).

5. If we’re quiet, we appear wise. “Even a fool is considered wise when he keeps silent, discerning, when he seals his lips” (Prov. 17:28, CSB).

6. We shouldn’t overreact to a leader’s anger. Defensiveness and angry responses often only incite those in authority to increase their intensity. “A king’s fury is a messenger of death, but a wise man appeases it. When a king’s face lights up, there is life; his favor is like a cloud with spring rain” (Prov. 16:14–15, CSB). 

The biblical way to differ with someone begins inside us. If we allow anger in, we’ll argue with the intent to dominate. If we instead try to arrive at truth that benefits everyone (even our opponent), we will speak with reason and conviction. 

Thinking back on any arguments you’ve had, do you recognize how anger might have influenced your words? Based on today’s Scriptures, how could you have handled those arguments better?

Written by Tom Harper

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