Working through Anger


anger-management-poster

I’ve been contemplating a series of Sunday messages that talk about anger issues. How do we follow the Holy Spirit’s direction in identifying anger, processing it, and using it constructively to bring about positive change? When I observe other people, circumstances, and even myself, I see too much unchecked, unacknowledged anger, and that’s not only unhealthy, but dangerous. I’m convinced that much of the “acting out” we hear about in news stories and the destructive life decisions people make have their roots in anger and resentment.

Living in the Baltimore-Washington corridor, I live in a high-stress area, and so I see visible signs of anger mismanagement on a daily basis. It’s a growing, congested, fast-paced, politically and economically powerful, expensive, transient area where many people work in high-stress professional jobs they attempt to balance with family and personal life. Many of us live in constant tension. In a post-9/11 world filled much political and economic turbulence, all these factors only seem to intensify. I’ve often said that it’s no wonder we have two world-class cardiac hospitals and the best cancer treatment facilities money can buy. It’s a taxing area to live, work, and play.

So, put all of that together, and we’ve got the perfect fiery cauldron for anger leading to often severe mental and physical health issues. No matter our economic class or race, I see many of the same health issues: depression, anxiety, bipolar disorders, domestic violence, addiction, insomnia, sexual issues, hypertension, heart issues, obesity, cancer, and so much more. So much of this, I believe, finds its roots in thorny depths of unchecked, unresolved stress-induced resentment and anger.

Of course, people bring what they’re feeling and experiencing into the Church. Therefore, a much-needed aspect of our discipleship must include learning how Jesus navigates us through the stormy waters of high-stress induced anger, not just for our sakes, but to be a light to the world around us, modeling peace and wholeness through the indwelling love and peace of Jesus Christ within us.

To engage my congregation in anger issues, I’m piecing together a 4-part sermon series. Here’s a rough outline:

1) Part 1: Working through Anger with Ourselves

2) Part 2: Working through Anger with Others

3) Part 3: Working through Anger with God

4) Part 4: Working through Anger with Uncontrollable Circumstances

Right now, I’m researching possible Scriptures to guide the conversation each week. I’m also looking for resources and perspectives. I’d truly appreciate any thoughts and feedback from any of you as well as your prayers. I’m not naive enough to think that I’ll solve all the world’s anger problems with a sermon series, but perhaps addressing these issues head-on will serve as a catalyst to acknowledge our anger and discover a path to healing.

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6 Comments

Filed under Christian thought, Reflections

6 responses to “Working through Anger

  1. Maggie

    PC,
    This is a great idea for a sermon series. I know from personal and professional experience that anger is a very powerful force in our lives. It is induced by stress and anxiety for a lot of us and it spans the whole life cycle. Anger is a byproduct of a lot of issues, most of which could be avoided or decreased by good communiciation. Communication is the key to working through anger, as well as learning coping skills to help manage stress and anger. Personally, anger for me represents bitterness and inability or unwillingness to forgive.

    I know in my search for anger resolution and understanding some of the scriptures from Matthew 5 (Matt5:38-48, 6:14-15) have been helpful. The Lord’s Prayer is a really great prayer for working through moments of anger.

  2. MaryAnne Royster

    Pastor Chris,
    Love the idea of this series of sermons. Just an idea–since many of us are unaware that we are angry at ourselves, perhaps that topic should be second or third in the series and “Working through Anger at Others should be first.
    Looking forward to hearing what you have to say!

    MaryAnne

  3. your aunt

    Anger has it’s place. Years ago a Priest friend reminded me that Christ expressed anger, and in a physically and verbally excessive manner. Remember the Temple and the temper tantrum he had at those doing things that didn’t belong on Temple grounds ?
    If you approach this episode from within Christ at the moment, you may have a handle. Anger isn’t always wrong.

  4. I was so angry, I couldn’t even read your blog. Kidding. Love the idea.
    Wonder if you could assign sermon titles based on country songs… like “achy breaky heart” “gunpowder and lead” “Love Don’t Live Here” “Picture To Burn” or “Winner At A Losing Game”…. wow.. maybe this fascination with angry songs is really showing me my unchecked anger, huh?
    MISS YA!

  5. Ken

    Great idea – I had just been praying about this yesterday & today, so very timely to come upon this.

    I think it will be worthwhile to point out that anger itself is not necessarily always the issue, but it is often anger that leads to sin, and the start of larger problems.

    For example of just anger: God shows his wrath, or anger, when it is warranted; Paul is seen taking folks to task; etc.

    But anger that leads to sin and evil (Ps 37:8) , no matter where directed (self / others / God), can have the most consequences, at first glance.

    Enjoying your blog…

  6. Part 4: Working through Anger with Uncontrollable Circumstances

    Would that include things like domestic violence?

    Sounds like an interesting series.

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