The Problem of Anger
Recently I edited a blog for LifeWay Christian Resources’ president, Thom Rainer, for ChurchCentral.com. It addressed the need for leaders to apologize.
It included mention of an encounter Rainer had once with a young man who wanted to know more about faith. Mentioning he reviewed a lot of interactions among Christians online, he asked Rainer, “Why is it that you Christians fight so much? Why are you so antagonistic toward each other?”
“My purpose in sharing this true story is not to tell you how I responded,” Rainer wrote. “My greater purpose is to remind ourselves that the world is always watching us. We will certainly make mistakes and say things we regret. But we can always apologize.”
Around the same time I worked on this blog, I heard about the release of a revised version of an eight-week Bible study titled Uprooting Anger: Destroying the Monster Within.
The wife of a pastor in central Kentucky and co-director of a residential treatment center, author Kay Camenisch originally published the book seven years ago. It evolved from her extensive counseling experience and dealing with families devastated by anger.
Daily the center got calls from parents, begging them to take their sons for treatment because their rebellion was destroying their home, Kay says. Finally, they offered an opportunity for parents to seek a week of counseling, hoping to train them to communicate more effectively with their sons.
However, Camenisch says: “We found such anger in the parents that I was devastated. No wonder the children rebelled (in) their teens. I could see the anger being passed down through the generations.”
According to the author, the situation hasn’t improved since 2007. She calls anger “rampant.” Like a monster, she says it is destroying individuals, families and churches.
On the encouraging side, Kay says every time she wonders why she continues with such painstaking work, word filters back to her about churches using it in group studies to help people find freedom from such bondage.
“I want to reach those mothers and fathers who are teaching their children about God while training them through anger,” she says.
Preventing An Explosion
I had my own experience with temper recently, although fortunately I subdued it before it exploded. Under an intense deadline for a story in a national publication, I kept running into no or slow responses, particularly from an agency I had dealt with in the past.
Having already asked for a deadline extension, I felt the pressure intensifying. For a moment, I thought about dashing off an e-mail to this agency to gripe about their treatment of me (I pause to say that, in my estimation, 98 percent of anger is self-centered).
Fortunately, I never wrote that note. A leading reason stems from some material I am currently editing for a businessman that reviews a collection of principles for the workplace. The chapter on emotions notes the wisdom of Proverbs 16:32: “He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.”
“I saw that my spirit needs to manage and rule my behavior,” this businessman writes. “Since I can manage it, I am responsible for my actions,” he writes. “I saw that I could operate in peace instead of letting unpredictable emotions hold sway over me.”
These words came back to me, helping me to remember the need to not let my emotions go wild and ultimately cause more problems.
While this leader’s book won’t be published for awhile, in the meantime it appears that we can all benefit from studying books like Uprooting Anger. Our society will be better for it.