How to Deal with Anger ... Constructively

A little over a week ago (I think) I received an email from WTS about a collection of books that they were putting together from CCEF.  I snagged them because of the topics being dealt with (... and because of the great price.) The first JBC Must Reads I opened was on the topic of anger.  It's something I've seen flare up more and more in my heart.  It's something I've wanted to tackle lately without much guidance or success.  This collection of articles has been helpful (... and I'm only half way through).

Here's what I've learned.

Defining Anger

David Powlison, in the first article, defines anger this way:

Anger is essentially very simple: "I'm against that." (pg. 6)

It's the way we react when something we think important is not the way it's supposed to be. (pg. 9)

Dealing with Anger

But because everything we do is tainted with sin, we typically do this wrong.  Which is why Powlison goes on to explain how to handle anger constructively and redemptively.  The answer lies how we think about mercy.  He calls it "the constructive displeasure of  mercy" (pg. 46), which has 4 aspects:

1. Patience - "Patience see wrong, but it is 'slow to anger'. (pg. 50)  The main component of patience is forbearance: "To forbear means to hang in there with people or events that remain wrong and hurtful. ... It is committed to change the world - slowly - not simply to endure the world." (pg. 51).

2. Forgiveness - " ... looks wrong in the eye, names it what it is, feels the sting.  Then you consciously act 'unfairly' in return." (pg. 51)

3. Charity - "Anger operates out of a strictly punitive sense of fairness and justice.  Charity agrees, "That's wrong," but then does some undeserved generous act of kindness." (pg. 54)

4. Constructive anger - " ... enters forcefully into conflict in order to redeem. ... The process of troubleshooting, of problem-solving, of peace-making, of making right what is wrong, is often long and hard.  It takes honesty.  It's always messy." (pg. 55)

Conclusion

"Constructive conflict is part of the redemption of a bad situation.  It is the only merciful alternative to giving up in exhaustion, disgust, and raw anger." (pg. 57)

All quotes taken from JBC Must Reads on Anger ©2013 by CCEF.

HIGHLY recommend this series of books for all pastor's and people who find them in counseling roles.  Get them here.

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