My ability to become angry amazes me.
Someone or something trivial will trigger it. It’s my reaction to feeling thwarted in some way however serious or ridiculous. I trip over my wife’s heels on the way to the closet. Ugh! Somebody cuts in front of me on the freeway. Really? My schedule or plan gets interrupted or redirected. You’ve got to be kidding me. I get asked to do something I didn’t plan on doing. What? A project takes way too long because I am not the one in charge of it. This is ridiculous. I get a “no” when I thought for sure I would get a “yes” to my request. Unbelievable. Sensations, words, and feelings seize my body in those moments. Before I even have a second to think about things, there it is. I am “hot” about someone, somebody, or something. Anger in this sense is not bad, not a sin, and is functioning the way it should. I am being alerted to an obstruction of my will. The problem is that all anger contains some level of malice. It’s this aspect of anger that can act like an aggressive cancer and spread quickly because it includes an intent to harm. All anger is harmful which is why we don’t like it when we know people are angry with us. At some level they want some kind of correction or harm to befall us. Again, the abiding and unseen presence of anger in any relationship is a cancer and once spotted has to be radiated quickly.
In history’s greatest message ever given on life and relationships, Jesus himself chooses to address the issue of anger as the number one personal issue men must be aware of and address internally as it arises (Matthew 5:21-22). More specifically, he teaches men to recognize it and place limits on it in our lives where it exists at the attitude level versus the action level.
This is consistent theme of Scripture because it is the one emotion behind so much pain and evil. Men are called by the Bible to learn how to “lay aside anger” (Colossians 3:8) because to retain and cultivate it is to give the Devil a perfect entry point in your life to start wreaking havoc in your relationships (Ephesians 4:26-27). Evil suggestions are welcomed by an angry man more eagerly than one who is settled within. Our anger attracts his presence as he also knows anger leads to contempt and contempt seeks to degrade, exclude, push away, and isolate others. If anger is the knife that can cut into healthy relationships, contempt is powerful hand driving it deep into the soul of another. Cutting words, phrases, gestures, looks, or acts that are intended to harm scar relationships. In our culture men do not have to act outwardly mad to be mean. Few men physically murder others but millions are killing the souls of others through anger, contempt, and verbal stabbings.
To eliminate the cancer of anger and contempt here are a few suggestions:
- Treasure the preciousness of people around you
- See people as God’s creations designed for eternal purposes
- See yourself in others so that you can be kind to others
- Seek personal transformations that improve relationships
- Personally connect to God’s love for you so that you can give away that same love in your relationships.
- Intervene and interject God’s truth into moments of anger. A good first step is to memorize James 1:19-20 and speak it when you feel anger rising.
- Meet weekly with a group of men to process your “stuff,” ask for prayer, and be accountable to love people.
- Talk to God daily and on a moment by moment basis to aspirate negative feelings and thoughts you may have toward others
Anger like cancer has to be aggressively isolated, treated, and eliminated. You won’t have your hair fall out but hopefully your pride will whither. Remember, all men will be triggered and experience anger. But receiving, indulging, retaining, and expressing it is a choice.
Kenny Luck is the president and founder of Every Man Ministries. As the men’s pastor at Saddleback Church in California, Kenny has found the proven way to improve men’s ministries around the world. Sleeping Giant is this blueprint, and gives men the tools they need to lead and understand their own men’s ministry. Watch Kenny’s teachings at EveryManMinistries.com.