I recently had a church training assignment to review the qualifications of an overseer/elder/shepherd from Scripture. It immediately struck me these 26 qualifications are a vital standard from which we should try to lead our families. After all, 1 Timothy 3:5 says, “If anyone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of God’s church?” So, what are the qualifications of Biblical fatherhood?

My aim in this post is not to shame. It’s to challenge you—for you to have an aha moment as I did. Review the list that follows. Take time to consider its weight. For it is the calling of an overseer in the church. So why not try and live this out in our homes? May Scripture challenge you and ultimately move you to complete reliance on God. Let’s dig in. 

The best image of biblical manhood is that of a shepherd. God’s Word is rich in its discussion about shepherding. Moses, David, and Amos served as shepherds, and all were influenced greatly by that role in their leadership. Shepherd is applied in Scripture to God, Jesus, kings, political leaders and pastors. I don’t think I’m going theologically crazy to connect shepherding to biblical fatherhood.


Think about it: as a dad, you shepherd your family (the sheep) in the following ways:

—Feed the sheep even if you have to gather them in your arms to carry them to the pasture.
—Guide them to the pasture and away from the rough places and precipices.
—Seek and save any sheep who get lost.
—Protect the sheep; you are willing to sacrifice your own life for them.
—Restore sheep who go astray and return.
—Reward the sheep for obedience and faithfulness.
—Keep the sheep separate from the goats.

There’s something vital you must know about shepherd-leadership: You are actually an “undershepherd”. The Bible indicates that there is one shepherd, and it’s not you. Of course, Scripture is referring to Jesus (John 10:16). He is the Good Shepherd (John 10:11,15), the Great Shepherd (Heb. 13:20-21), and the Chief Shepherd (1 Peter 5:4).

Your role is to follow the Chief Shepherd, model following Him for your family, help the sheep under your care hear and respond to the Good Shepherd’s voice, guide the sheep under your care to follow the Good Shepherd, reach out to sheep without a Shepherd, and lead the sheep to the Shepherd who gives abundant and eternal life. This is what a good father does. It’s why we wrote these Field Guides.

Where do we find the qualifications of shepherds?

You’ll find the list that follows in these Scriptures: 1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9; 1 Peter 5:1-4

Let’s review the 26 qualifications of a godly leader and imagine them being lived out by you—in your home:

1. Above reproach
2. The husband of one wife
3. Believing children
4. Sober-minded
5. Not arrogant
6. Not quick-tempered (see our book Anger’s Antidote)
7. Self-controlled
8. Respectable
9. Hospitable
10. Lover of good
11. Upright
12. Holy
13. Disciplined
14. Holds firm to the Word
15. Able to give sound instruction
16. Able to refute bad instruction
17. Able to teach (Consider Culture Wars Field Guide)
18. Not a drunkard
19. Not violent, but gentle
20. Not quarrelsome
21. Not a lover of money
22. Not greedy
23. Good manager of household
24. Keep children submissive
25. Not a new convert
26. Well thought of by outsiders

Now, I’m sure you’re dying for me to wax eloquent about each of these qualifications. Maybe in another post, but not this one. All I want from you reading this post is for your eyes to be opened—like mine have been. Biblical fatherhood calls for a different standard of leadership. It’s an eye-opening list when you read it all together, huh?

Again, this list isn’t to shame you. But, imagine if you and I led our homes from this list. How would your home change? How would you change? I found this list to be equal parts challenging and encouraging. I like having a clear benchmark. With God’s grace, we can lead in this manner. This list should be our goal. And, it should be the goal we try to teach our kids. Always, with our lives pointing to God instead of ourselves. Sorry dads, but we are not the hero in this story, God is. 

So, here was my assignment from elder training, that I kindly give to you now!

Review the 26 qualifications. Write down your three (3) strongest qualifications and your three (3) weakest qualifications. Then, without sharing your answers with your wife, have her do the same. Discuss. This should make for a fun evening! My email is here if you need me. : )