I began golfing in middle school and the game taught me something early on – I struggle with anger. While the temptation to slam clubs has greatly decreased, ever since then I’ve been on a journey with God in dealing with my anger. Sure, some ‘righteous’ anger is good, and Jesus even expressed this, but many times I lose my temper over things that would not fit under the ‘righteous’ anger category. In this post, I’d like to share three things that have been helpful to me in allowing Jesus to sanctify my temper:
1. Memorize or post James 1:19 somewhere. “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” This verse is short and easy to memorize and has been a great prayer for me to call to mind. Don’t underestimate the power of prayer – if you ask Jesus to help you to become slow to anger, He will hear and respond.
2. Confess the struggle to others. A few weeks ago during a response time after a sermon at our church, I shared my struggle with a couple other guys I trust. Although it was somewhat embarrassing at first, there was power in disarming the secret, as well as in the way they received it in grace and prayed powerful prayers over me. I have sensed massive change in my heart since then. I guess we should learn something else from our brother James when he says to “confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed” (James 5:16).
3. Don’t let the anger trigger more anger. Many times I find that I get more angry when I realize I got angry. I’m such a perfectionist that I allow no grace to myself – the result is a downward spiral. Rather, I’ve been learning from Proverbs 24:16 which says, “though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again.” I may lose the battle, but win the war. The point is, you will fail and the only way you can ultimately win is through grace. Don’t let the fact that you have a moment of weakness lead to more weakness. Stop, recognize you got angry, apologize to those who were hurt in the process, and move on. Don’t let getting angry lead to more anger.
The stakes are high with this issue. We need to model for our kids and church how to deal with our emotions in a healthy manner. Let’s not be passive about this, but active.