What Does God Look for in a Leader? Part 3

By Mark D. Roberts

July 26, 2017

These are the descendants of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation; Noah walked with God.”

Genesis 6:9


A sepia colored photo close-up of a person's eye, with only color in the iris.

In yesterday’s Life for Leaders devotion, we continued our search for what God looks for in a leader. We focused on the first quality found in Genesis 6:9, which says of Noah that he “was a righteous man, blameless in his generation,” and that he “walked with God.” God looks for a leader who is “righteous,” that is, whose behavior is consistent with God’s standards and whose relationships are just. Moreover, a “righteous” person seeks to serve God and has a heart formed according to God’s own character.

Today, we move to the second quality that God valued in Noah, and which accounts for Noah’s promotion to senior leadership in God’s kingdom. According to the NRSV translation of Genesis 6:9, Noah was also “blameless in his generation.” He stood out from all other people in being “blameless.” But what does this really mean?

When we hear the word “blameless,” we think of someone who has never done anything wrong. But this does not accurately capture the sense of the original language of Genesis 6:9. The Hebrew word from which we get “blameless” is tamim. The dictionary definition of tamim is “complete, whole, perfect, blameless.” In the Old Testament, tamim is rarely applied to people. Most often, it describes the animal sacrifices God requires, which must be free from blemish or injury. Yet, when applied to a person, tamim suggests more than mere blamelessness. It has to do with being a complete, whole, integrated person. The Message captures well the sense of tamim in Genesis 6:9, “Noah was a good man, a man of integrity in his community.” A person who is tamim is a person of integrity, one whose life is integrated, who lives well in God-given wholeness, free from hypocrisy or duplicity.

My colleague Scott Cormode, professor of leadership at Fuller Seminary and senior fellow of the De Pree Center, points out that today’s leaders are tempted to compartmentalize their lives. We have one set of values for work, one set for home, one set for church, and so on. Compartmentalization of this sort is the opposite of being tamim, a whole person of integrity whose life is unified ethically, personally, and spiritually. Genesis 6:9 would suggest that we must learn how to live and lead with integration rather than compartmentalization.

The example of Noah challenges me to consider my own life. Perhaps you feel similarly challenged. The questions below might help you think about ways in which you are, or are not, tamim, like Noah.


Are you a person of integrity in your community? Do you live what you believe?

Do the different sectors of your life cohere in a God-centered harmony? Where is your life most out of joint today?

How is God bringing greater wholeness to your life?


Gracious God, as I reflect on the example of Noah and the meaning of tamim, I’m immediately reminded of ways in which my life and leadership fall short. I strive for integrity, but I so often find that I have segmented my life into disconnected sectors. I want to be whole and to live a life of wholeness. But I do not live up to this standard. Thus, I need your forgiveness, your help.

As you work in me through your Spirit, I ask that you bring me into greater wholeness. Teach me how to live and how to be with integrity. May every part of my life be more and more integrated through your healing, restoring grace. Amen.


This post originally published on August 5, 2015.


Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentaryBlessed are the Pure in Heart, for They Will See God (Matthew 5:8)

Mark D. Roberts

Senior Strategist

Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders,...

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