How do you deal with anger?

Angry Man

I think that many men have difficulty controlling their temper.  This past Friday evening, in a Q & A time, my dad shared some thoughts with the men of the church that I pastor.  The lessons that he related to them were things that had been instrumental in him learning to control his own temper.

Dad shared 3 principles that had helped him (obviously I can’t remember everything he said verbatim, so I’m explaining what I remember him saying).  I’ll categorize them as theological, spiritual, and practical.

#1 Theological.  Change your thinking about God.  Remember that God is sovereign and that He is the One Who controls circumstances.  Mom used to say that “interruptions are divine appointments.”  Sadly, many of us get angry at situations that are beyond our control instead of recognizing that God ordains them for His purpose.

Do you remember the trials of Job?  God permitted Satan to test the faith of Job in a way that most of us will never have to endure.  Job’s classic response demonstrated a theological understanding that eludes many people, that was “the LORD gave and the LORD hath taken away, blessed be the name of the LORD.”

When we learn to trust that the all knowing God has our best interest in mind, it will have a tremendous impact on our responses to seemingly frustrating conditions.

Does your angry response indicate that you don’t believe that God is in control of circumstances?  Perhaps you are acting as if you don’t think God knows what He is doing?

#2 Spiritual. Gaze on Christ.  Jesus Christ was the perfect example of self-control.  The Apostle Paul taught in 2nd Corinthians 3:18 that as believers gaze on the Lord, they are changed into the same image.  The more that we study Christ, the more we become like Him.  It may seem trite, but the reality is that Christians need to be in the Word daily, not academically, but for the sake of their soul.  The Bible is the written revelation of God manifesting the person of Christ.  You can not learn of Christ outside of a regular diet of the Bible.

Paul warned the Philippian believers against selfishness in Philippians 2:3-4, then immediately encouraged them to follow the example of Christ’s humility.  “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.”  The emphasis and intent of Philippians 2:5-11 is not primarily to teach Christology (though it certainly does that), but to use Christ as the model of behavior for believers.

Studying Christ, with a yielded heart, will cause you to look like Him.  You will be a reflection of Christ – and His responses were always controlled and right.

#3 Practical.  Adjust things that are in your control.  Dad made me laugh when he explained this final thought.  He said, “I traded cars.  I’m getting too old to be getting down in to my LeSabre.  So, rather than hitting my head every time I got in the car, I traded cars!”  (He now has a crossover with more headroom.)

Obviously, I’m not indicating that you should take radical steps just to avoid irritation (Dad needed to get a new car anyways), but there are simple things you could probably do to avoid irritation.  Leave for work earlier so that slow traffic doesn’t irritate you.  I often choose to put my contacts in on rainy days because water drops on my glasses irritate me.  Many frustrations could be avoided if we simply made better choices.

Solomon did write that “a prudent man foreseeth the evil and hideth himself, but the simple pass on and are punished.”  If you know that something is going to make you angry, avoid it!

Finally, on a personal level, my dad’s spiritual growth was very important in my life; his growth was observable and gave me a realistic picture of sanctification.  As a teenager, I knew that my dad struggled with his temper. However, at the age of 17, I saw a situation take place that I fully expected would cause my dad to get very angry.  Instead his response was measured and (spirit) controlled.  That particular moment in time is burned in my mind and the memory always encourages me because it is a marker of my dad’s own journey in becoming more like Christ.  This past Friday night was the first time I heard him enumerate the actual steps that helped him through mankind’s ubiquitous problem – anger.  I hope and pray that these thoughts will be as much of a help and blessing to you as they were to me and the men of our church!