What Can I Do with my Anger?

It’s time to appoint elders.

Is a man qualified?

Does he have believing children? How many?

If he’s been married more than once, does he have two (three, four) wives?

These are important and should be addressed.

In preparing the sermon for Sunday on the qualifications of elders, it jumped out at me: five of the eight negative qualifications of a shepherd have to do with anger issues:

If that’s important, and it is, Christians should practice dealing with a common and powerful emotion: anger.

Since we’re commanded to have it (Ephesians 4:26) and to put it away (Ephesians 4:31), we could use some help on investing it when we get it.

What do I do with it? Where do I put it?

I process my anger when I think about it and put different pieces in appropriate places. I need to have the appropriate amount of anger at the right people, expressed at the right time, in the right amounts. To do that, I need to think and be honest. Anger is a secondary emotion. Some feeling precedes anger (Mark 3:5). Often people can hear my grief easier than they can deal with my anger.

Who or what prompted my anger? If I’m irritated with the elders, I don’t need to take it out on my wife or children. If a member of the congregation hurts me, I may not need to preach a sermon and hope they get it. It would be better to talk to them when I’m ready.

Even if I’m planning drastic action, I need to think about it and plan it — not “fly off the handle.” In John 2, Jesus made his whip to drive out the moneychangers. He thought about what He was going to do and did it deliberately.

Do I need to do anything? When someone cuts me off in traffic, I may get angry instantly and think to myself or say to someone in the car with me, “Why would anyone do something like that?!!!!!!” After thinking for a few seconds I may reflect: Probably for the same reason I did a similar thing yesterday. I don’t have to chase the person down, get their tag number, and demand their arrest or get into road rage and take vengeance myself.

If I have much anger built up for a long time, I need to be sure I’m not delivering the entire load to the last person who crossed me.

There is value in Psalm 4:4: “Be angry, and do not sin. Meditate within your heart on your bed and be still.”

When I think of processing my feelings, I think of a computer. It has a processor that takes the 1’s and 0’s in computer language and puts them in usable form and files them in appropriate places so I may access them and use them profitably. I also like to make many backups so I don’t waste valuable time, thinking, work, and experience. When I can’t find something I need on my newer computer, I can go to Time Machine backups and access everything I’ve done on a computer in the last several years. It’s been processed, saved, and preserved for my use. I don’t have to do the same things over when I process what I’ve done.

I may process my anger and realize I’ve sinned while angry (Ephesians 4:26). If so, I need to repent and ask forgiveness.

James Jones, in his book, Managing Church Conflict, discusses processing feelings.

To work through or put away feelings, these steps may be helpful:

Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice (Ephesians 4:31, NKJV).

1. A person must become aware of having particular feelings – not deny the feelings.
2. An individual must correctly identify his feelings.
3. An individual must analyze his feelings and their origin thoroughly.
4. He needs to express the appropriate amount of feelings at an appropriate time, in the appropriate place, toward the correct person(s) or event.
5. In working through feelings, a person must experience them – not just say feeling words; for example, crying until one is finished.

Part of shepherd training and personal spiritual growth should be information, discussion, and exercises in anger management.

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Jerrie Barber
Servant of Jesus, husband to Gail, father to Jerrie Wayne Barber, II and Christi Parsons, grandfather, great-grandfather, Interim Preacher, Shepherd coach, Ventriloquist, barefoot runner, ride a cruiser bicycle

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