I admit it – I have a temper. I’m generally able in God’s grace to control it, and to my knowledge, few people have ever seen it displayed. I know, though, that I’m not the only pastor who deals with this issue. Here are my thoughts about why so many pastors carry this trait:
- Many of us were saved out of homes where anger was a reality. Whether we like it or not, we who lived in an angry atmosphere often picked up that same characteristic. Our redemption frees us from its bondage but doesn’t always eradicate the tendency.
- We’re often perfectionists. We don’t want to fail God, our congregation, or ourselves. We’re better at offering grace to others than to ourselves – and our response to failure is often defeat and anger.
- Some of us have no outlet for frustration. That’s neither good nor right, but it’s reality. We sometimes have no true friends with whom we can be transparently honest before anger gets out of control.
- Some days, it feels like weighty pastoral pressures never end. Some ministry needs are life-and-death. Others affect homes, marriages, and generations. When pastoral stress seems non-stop, it’s easy to let little things give rise to anger.
- Many of us don’t take care of ourselves spiritually. Our time with God is reduced to sermon preparation alone, and prayer is on an “emergency” basis. Consequently, we hardly exhibit the fruit of the Spirit.
- Many of us don’t take care of ourselves physically. We don’t eat well, exercise well, or rest well, or vacation well. Tired, out-of-shape, undisciplined leaders are increasingly vulnerable to displays of anger.
- Some church structures give us permission to be angry. That is, pastors who have little accountability, or who are given reign over their own church kingdom, have few stop signs to expressing anger.
- Sometimes our role demands righteous anger. It is not ungodly to be angry at the effects of injustice. Church members are sometimes so sinfully rude that anger is a valid response. The difficulty is walking that line without allowing our anger to become sin.
- Too often, we have private sin that haunts us. Internal sin often displays itself with a short fuse. Actually, increasing anger is one of the signs I watch for when I’m worried about a brother’s private life.
- We ignore the reality of spiritual warfare. Maybe we talk about it when a friend falls into some obvious sin like adultery or drunkenness or pornography – but not anger. Meanwhile, the devil works in deceived, angry hearts to slaughter pastors, homes, and ministries.
What would you add to this list? How might we pray for you if anger is an issue?