You are “…sick and tired of it!” You’ve rolled up your sleeves and given your prayed-up, post-revival, Catalyst, Leadership Summit, Preaching Rocket best, and still haven’t seen a breakthrough. You’ve studied, rehearsed, fasted and then preached your guts out and got nothing…”nada!” You think to yourself, “I don’t get paid enough for this!” You vision, strategize, fund-raise, plan, promote, life group, disciple, community connect, evangelize and outreach. You visit the sick, shut-ins, and counsel night and day. Even though you know God sees all your effort, your blood starts to boil when someone jabs you with the old, “Must be nice to only work on Sundays!” Or worse. Things have been going pretty well and yet your fuse just seems to get shorter and shorter. Could you be an angry pastor?
Still not sure if you fit this category? Here are 5 Signs You Are an Angry Pastor…
1) You get angry a lot… and you know it. You aren’t the type to cry or sulk. That’s for weak leaders, weak people. Besides, you have reasoned it to be righteous indignation and the direct result of your role in and the reality of ministry. Deep down you know it’s not. You would have anger issues if you did something else for a living. Although the ministry brings more than its fair share of frustration, this is personal, not professional. You just aren’t ready to admit it.
2) You get especially angry when someone close to you suggests you are angry… and reading this makes you angry. You are guarded, defensive, and deny, deny, deny. Ask yourself, “When is the last time I let down my guard and laughed at myself or my circumstance with my family or lead team; really laughed?” Can’t remember? That’s a problem.
3) You blame others. You imagine yourself “cleansing the temple” and “overturning the money carts.” At the very least you daydream about actually telling needy, self-absorbed, childish people (especially “church people”) where to go and how to get there, maybe even from the pulpit. Of course, this is in itself needy, self-absorbed and childish. Still, you know you’re right, they’re wrong, and that’s all that matters… right?!
4) You self-medicate or otherwise deflect and distract. This may include over-eating, binge-watching tv/online streaming videos or sports, online gaming and gambling, secretly abusing over-the-counter medications or other substances, viewing pornography, or indulging in other sinful or unhealthy habits and “coping mechanisms.” You may not have struggled with these, but how about the sin of “workaholism” in Jesus’ Name? (Which really makes you mad when you don’t have a day off, again!)
Have you considered that this may be about more than anger issues? Please, seek out a professional Christian counselor asap and let your spouse in on it. Own the issues behind the anger now before they own you and deeply hurt the one’s you love (It may well have already!). Find a local group or cluster of people to trust and join them in finding accountable strength in Christ through shared surrender.
5) You feel guilty and ashamed after acting out (publicly or privately) in anger. You seek forgiveness, again, and promise God, your family and yourself you’ll do better, live happier. That is, until you get that next text or email. Then, look out… angry pastor is back with a vengeance!
I’ve heard some leaders obsessively blog to let off steam? I don’t know any of those guys.
The point is, you don’t have to live and lead angry. There is hope and help to be a more joy-filled person, let alone a happy pastor. I know. I was that young, angry pastor. Mr. Positive on the outside but mad-at-the-world on the inside. The good news is that unhealthy triggers and patterns can be exposed, dealt with and replaced with healthy ways of dealing with what the old tempter knows is your “go to” emotion… anger.
How do you deal with it? Check out more suggestions in the upcoming post, “How to Deal with Pastoral Anger.” For now, don’t stop taking it to the Lord in prayer. The Spirit and Word will bring ultimate victory to the humble heart. No, you aren’t alone. Yes, you will need the help of others. For the moment, stop looking within and don’t stop looking up and crying out.