[management by God] anger management 101

Written by Dan King

Christ-follower. husband. father. author of the unlikely missionary: from pew-warmer to poverty-fighter. co-author of activist faith: from him and for him. director of family ministry at st. edward's episcopal church. president of fistbump media, llc.

November 19, 2010

I love this scene…

During Jesus’ day the Jewish Law required people to make various atonements for their sins. For some sins, you were required to give your finest, first-born sheep, and for other things you maybe had to sacrifice a bird of some sort.

Now remember that this was a largely agricultural society, so quite often people had and raised many of these animals. Therefore the sacrifice that they had to make for their sins was a personal sacrifice. And quite often they were required to give up the best quality sacrifice, such as a lamb without spot.

I can only imagine that it must have been difficult to give up the best quality animals that I had, especially if that was my livelihood. And for what? Doing something that I shouldn’t have done in the first place?

Now Jesus is on His way into the temple courts, and what does he find?

Rather than people bringing their sacrifices, He sees people buying and selling them in a makeshift market right there in the temple courts!

Can you imagine what goes through the average Israelite’s mind? They go to the temple without a sacrifice for whatever reason (probably indifference), and they feel okay with that because they can just pick one up when they get there.

Jesus was outraged!

Didn’t these people get it? This story is told in Matthew 21:12-17, and speaks a great deal about the attitude of the heart and repentance. However, I point it out as one of the few examples where Jesus got angry. In fact He got so angry that He started tossing the tables around right there in the temple courts! What an incredible display of anger!

As we discuss the ninth qualification for the executive-leader, we come across “not violent but gentle”.

The original Greek words used here are plektes and epieikes.

Plektes literally means “bruiser, ready for a blow” or “a pugnacious, contentious, quarrelsome person”. This is what we are not to be.

Instead we are to be epieikes, which means “equitable, fair, mild, gentle”.

This description of what we are and are not to be paints a very clear picture of someone who has a great deal of control over their temper. This is someone who does not fly off the handle when something bugs them, but rather has the ability to stay calm, cool, and collected.

A Righteous Anger

Does this mean that Jesus’ example in the temple show us that He couldn’t meet this qualification? Absolutely not! Jesus didn’t set the example of being the kind of guy that walked around with a chip on his shoulder, and looking to pick a fight.

What He showed us in the temple was a righteous anger, in which he used anger to express His displeasure with something that was absolutely and morally wrong. What He fought against was just as bad, if not worse, than many of other bad attitudes that He regularly had to deal with.

Anger simply helped him to express the extreme displeasure. Anger is more suitable if you are fighting for a cause, and something flies in the face of that cause.

Unrighteous Anger

The type of anger that becomes a problem is the type that alienates those that are close to you, and shows a lack of self-control. Prolonged exposure to an angry attitude not only increases your own stress levels, but also tears down the relationships with the people around you. Anger, if not used righteously, is a very destructive force to everyone involved.

Dealing With Anger

A good leader has the ability to remain calm, and not loose their temper. If you feel anger rising up in you, some of the simple, common techniques that will help you to deal with it are things like:

(1) temporarily remove yourself from the situation,

(2) practice relaxation techniques,

(3) look at things from someone else’s perspective.

However, most of all if we try to act out of a spirit of love, then we can often curb the anger and prevent ourselves from directing it at some innocent bystander. Think before you talk when anger starts rising up. Ask yourself how you would feel if someone said to you what you are about to say to someone else. Are you acting out of love and respect for other people?

Questions to consider:

  • What things really tick you off?
  • What are you doing to get a batter handle on your emotions when dealing with those situations?
  • When was the last time that someone directed anger at you?
  • What would you have done differently in that situation if you were them?
  • How can you apply that to your own anger management skills?


See more from the management by God series!


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[management by God] anger management 101

by Dan King time to read: 4 min