By Mark Dance
Dear angry preacher, you have a problem, and thus you’ve become one. Finishing the following sentence will help you know whether this post addresses you.
You might be an angry preacher if…
- You shake your fist when you preach.
- You blame everything on actors and politicians.
- You rant on social media about, well—everything.
- You assume I’m writing this to someone else.
Your anger is not unique, but it’s annoying and distracting. I’m sure you’re tired of it too, so my motive is to help you destroy anger before it destroys you, your family, and your ministry.
Although anger is a normal emotion, there’s an invisible line we cross when our healthy anger becomes harmful to others. Here are four solutions I’ve found helpful.
1. Guard your heart.
Jesus is the only cardiologist who can solve this heart issue. Since patience is a fruit of the Spirit, God can extinguish the anger we can’t manage.
So when my blood begins to boil, I release control of the situation—and myself—by simply praying for patience.
“Be angry and do not sin; on your bed, reflect in your heart and be still…and trust in the Lord” (Psalm 4:4).
2. Control your tongue.
Even as I write this in an airport terminal, I’m waiting on my second delayed flight of the day. My last trip included so many delays and cancellations that I arrived home a day and a half late!
The temptation to transfer my frustration onto innocent airline workers is real, but it’s never helpful.
“The intelligent person restrains his words, and one who keeps a cool head is a man of understanding. Even a fool is considered wise when he keeps silent, discerning when he seals his lips” (Proverbs 17:27-28)
3. Protect your pulpit.
All Christians need to guard our hearts, tongues, and posts carefully—but pastors even more so. What we say on stage is even more heavily measured both on earth as well as a “stricter judgment” in heaven later (James 3:1).
A young deacon once told me his church was having “multiple dumpster fires.” He wasn’t wrong. The term “dumpster fire” was just added to Miriam-Webster as part of a batch of 850 new words and phrases added to the dictionary website.
As a noun, Webster defines dumpster fire as, “an utterly calamitous or mismanaged situation or occurrence: disaster.”
All churches have dumpster fires…just make sure you’re not the arsonist.
“Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you should answer each person” (Colossians 4:6).
4. Dress for success.
More than a decade ago, I was well on my way to becoming the angry preacher I’m warning about here. I committed the following passage to memory by mentally getting dressed every day for almost a year.
“Put away all the following: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and filthy language from your mouth…since you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self…Therefore, as God’s chosen ones, holy and dearly loved, put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a grievance against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you are also to forgive. Above all, put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity” (Colossians 3:8-10,12-14).
I’m embarrassed to admit it took that long to get my heart right. If you’re an angry preacher, I strongly encourage you to get serious about rooting out anger before bitterness takes root in your heart, home, and ministry.
MARK DANCE (@markdance) serves as director of LifeWay Pastors. He speaks at churches, conferences, and retreats–often with his wife Janet. Mark has contributed to several books and offers weekly encouragement at MarkDance.net.