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Anger Management

“Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end.”

‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭29:11‬ ‭NIV‬‬

The last time I had spoken with him my friend was doing great. He was thrilled with recent successes at work and pleasantly surprised by the efforts of his employees. Which was all the more reason I was shocked to see his response when I checked in on him with a standard, “How are you?” Jaded and clearly frustrated, this time he responded with a flat out “Ticked off!” and explained in so many words his desire to knock some heads together and place his foot in a not so pleasant place for someone else.

If you simply google anger in the Bible you’ll find some fifty-four verses referencing it. What you might be surprised to see though is how often we are reminded to control our anger for our own good. Verses such as “In your anger do not sin”, (Ephesians‬ ‭4:26‬ ‭NIV)‬‬ “Refrain from anger and turn from wrath”, (Psalm‬ ‭37:8‬ ‭NIV‬‬) and “Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools.” (Ecclesiastes‬ ‭7:9‬ ‭NIV‬‬) remind us of the devastation uncontrolled anger can have on our lives.

Regardless of your temper-threshold, at a minimum these words of wisdom remind us to rein in our anger and beware the consequences of unleashing it. As an aside, there are times that do call for righteous anger (see Jesus clearing the temple and overturning money-changer tables). I fully believe God intended us to use anger against things like human trafficking, abuse and other detestable acts to be moved to action. But when anger gains control of our thoughts, words and emotions in the heat of the moment it tends to be more tied to pride and other sinful tendencies. Hence the strong warnings.

Don’t Yell at Joey

I had to laugh when I read the recent headline — “This man was leading the Iditarod until he yelled at one of his dogs — then they all quit on him”. The story describes how Musher Nicolas Petit blew a massive lead in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race after his dog team quit on him for yelling at one of his dogs named Joey [1]. The five hour lead Petit and the dogs had worked so hard for evaporated following his burst of anger.

I see this all the time, especially being around youth sports with my kids. An overzealous coach or parent screaming their demands at six-year-olds as if it would possibly compute. And I am just as guilty as they are. Often I’ll catch myself nearly blowing my top over one of my kids forgetting to do a requested chore. Yet what does this accomplish for us or the crazed coach/parent? Usually tears and a broken down team or family, certainly not what we were yelling to accomplish in the first place.

Transform > Transact

What if instead we sought transformation over a transaction? Joe Ehrmann, former NFL player and author of “InSideOut Coaching: How Sports Can Transform Lives” captures this thought perfectly:

“You either transact with people for your own personal needs, or you invest in the lives of people to help elevate them.”[2]

This thought has to point you as a parent back to what your “why” is in yelling or even instructing your kids. Is it to get a $5 plastic trophy? To brag about their accomplishments at the water cooler? Or should it be about leading them to be the great men and women they will be ten-plus years from now? As my friend, JP Nerbun, author of “Calling Up: Discovering Your Journey to Transformational Leadership” says, it’s way better to “Call Up” than “Call Out” the youth we lead.[3]

Control Your Anger

Fortunately my friend was able to readjust his perspective at work and control his anger. He spoke with the employees about the expectations he had for them and how they could work together better to achieve them. Rather than allowing the anger to control him, he used the emotion as a reminder to check in with himself on why he was upset and worked on transforming his team instead.

Next time you feel yourself ready to burst out in anger, especially at children, remember to control it. Bring calm to the situation. Your team might not only stop giving up on you but they may transform to lead you further ahead than you knew possible.



[3] (I highly recommend JP’s book and podcast, a must read/listen for any coaches and parents involved in your sports!)

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