Anger Would You Push The Button?
Have you ever pushed somebody’s buttons before? I have. I deliberately kept a man known for fits of temper waiting for an hour. When I finally wanted to attend to him, he looked like he was going to choke me. Thank God he didn’t.(chuckle). Its no wonder then that Jesus talked about anger and killing in the same context.(Matt 5: 21-22) A “Psychology Today” survey asked, “If you could secretly push a button and thereby eliminate any person with no repercussions to yourself, would you press that button?” 69% of men and 56% of women responding to this poll said yes!
When I read that, I thought of an angry preacher in Scripture: Jonah. Even though Jonah experienced outward success, internal issues were also brewing. After referring to the positive outcome of his ministry campaign in Nineveh, Scripture says Jonah was displeased exceedingly. Shortly after this, Jonah said to God ;”It is right for me to be angry, even to death!” There is an old saying: “Depression is anger turned inward.” At least in Jonah’s case, that old saying appears to be true.
We sometimes only think of anger in terms of those that have an explosive personality, but some people live at a “low boil.” They’ve learned how to project composure, but internally, they are angry. Others exhibit passive-aggressive tendencies, bringing frustration to others through their covert procrastination, stubbornness, and undermining behavior. Christians, especially ministers, are not “supposed” to be angry, and therefore, often end up suppressing feelings of anger and putting on a professional front for the public.
Where does anger come from?
Les Carter and Frank Minirth, in “The Anger Workbook,” called anger “the emotion of self preservation” and said it relates to our sense of personal worth, essential needs, and basic convictions. They state that we are most likely to become angry when:
* We perceive rejection or invalidation from people. In other words, we feel that our dignity has been demeaned and that we are not being respected.
* We are weary of having to live without our basic needs being noticed by others. The resulting anger is a type of protest for our needs not being met.
* We believe that others are insensitive to our most basic convictions. For example, we take pride in our work, but co-workers are careless and apathetic.
Other factors would include pride, impatience, unrealistic expectations, fear, a sense of inferiority, and loneliness. Regardless of the source, there is a type of anger that is harmful to us. Various studies have shown not only the emotional toll from harbored anger, but also the physical damage (increased risk of heart disease, peptic ulcers etc).
No doubt Moses faced enormous frustrations in dealing with his congregation, but he paid a great price because of anger. At one point, God told Moses to “speak to the rock” and it would bring forth water. Instead, Moses acted out of anger, and said, “Hear now, you rebels! Must we bring water for you out of this rock?” The next verse says, “Moses lifted his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod…” It was at this point that God told Moses and Aaron that they would not be bringing the people into the Promised Land. What a price he paid because anger governed him instead of God’s Word!
A lady once came to Billy Sunday and tried to rationalize her angry outbursts. “There’s nothing wrong with losing my temper,” she said. “I blow up, and then it’s all over.” “So does a shotgun,” Sunday replied, “and look at the damage it leaves behind!”
But is All Anger Bad?
“Human anger” won’t get us to the right place, but is there truly such a thing as “righteous indignation?” We know that Jesus experienced anger but it caused him to act constructively. Another time Jesus became angry in response to spiritual corruption. Paul said, “Be angry, and do not sin: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil” (Eph. 4:26-27). So this there a positively motivating type of response we can have to anger?
* Bede Jarrett says: “The world needs anger. The world often continues to allow evil because it isn’t angry enough.”
*“The man who gets angry at the right things and with the right people, and in the right way and at the right time and for the right length of time, is commended.” (Aristotle)
* Martin Luther said, “I never work better than when I am inspired by anger. When I am angry I can write, pray and preach well; for then my whole temperament is quickened, my understanding sharpened, and all mundane vexations and temptations depart.”
What Do We Do With Anger?
Whether your tendency is to turn anger inward and hurt yourself, or to turn anger outward and hurt others, we all need God’s help in dealing with anger. A good way of dealing with anger is to manage it constructively. A brilliant student was once accused of cheating on a test after obtaining high scores. He was then asked to re-write the test. He never complained and his expression never changed. He re-wrote the test and scored even higher when the result came out. May God help us be honest about any anger we face and give us grace to deal with it positively, productively, and constructively.
Adapted from an article by Tony Cooke