How to Deal with Pastoral Anger

imgres-11Now that you’ve admitted to being an angry pastor (see 5 Signs You Are an Angry Pastor), let’s begin down the path to finding peace. Here are several suggestions. Fair warning, this first one might make you, let’s say mildly agitated…

1) There are no angry pastors, only angry people. It simply isn’t the church’s fault, the elders aren’t to blame, your staff isn’t incompetent and the congregation isn’t full of “stupid sheep.” This is personal, not professional. Anger and the inward violence (and outward manifestations such as the throwing of things and punching of stuff you don’t let anyone see) aren’t vocational. At the end of the day, it’s just you and your anger. And, only you can do something about it. That is, only you can give it up and over to someone who can.

2) Get help. I would suggest 5 sources…

  • God – Fully admit to yourself and to God your anger and the unhealthy, even sinful ways you express it. Ask forgiveness and for the strength to overcome. This is where your healing begins.
  • Spouse & kids – Needless to say, they are probably well aware of your issue. Ask forgiveness and confess your need for patience as you humbly seek help.
  • Counselor – Some of the finest people and leaders I know invest in Christian counseling. Let someone with experience guide you in the putting off/putting on process that leads to long term victory.
  • Team – Surround yourself with a team of accountability partners who will pray, listen, encourage and hold you accountable.
  • Friend – Giving one individual permission to follow-up with your progress (question and encourage) can make all the difference.

3) Get happy. No, it isn’t as easy as flipping a “happy switch.” However, you can begin to do some simple but intentional things to create inner and outer environments that are conducive to contentment, even joy. While your counselor and team will likely go more in-depth, here are a few suggestions…

  • Slow down. Even if you are “Type A,” living life at a torrid pace simply isn’t healthy. Purpose to slow your breathing, your walk, your talk. Relax…
  • Lighten up. Jesus encouraged, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:29-30, NIV) My dad reminded once when I was stressing out, “Tommy, this world was doing just fine before we came along, and it will be doing just fine when we’re gone.” Dad’s right.
  • Find a hobby. This isn’t about mere distraction. Discover the challenge and fun of something other than what you do for a living. Find others who enjoy the same thing (my wife and I have hiked together for years and get out there every chance we get!) and just get into it!

Finally, don’t rush. While you can be forgiven in a moment, even spiritually “delivered” from an attitude of anger, for most this will be a journey out of anger and into joy. You might even get a little mad that you aren’t getting glad faster. Find a pace in ryhthm with grace. Don’t expect overnight success, but don’t relapse into a state of rage, either. Be as patient as you are purposed about overcoming your anger and dealing with the issues that are behind it. You aren’t the only one dealing with anger (or anything else). You and God will overcome!

Here are some suggested resources:

Uprooting Anger by Robert D. Jones

The Peacemaker by Ken Sande

Anger: Taming a Powerful Emotion by Gary Chapman

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