Four solutions for battling an angry heart

Dear pastor, 

You might have an anger problem that, very often, can lead you to becoming a problem. Finishing the following sentence will help you know whether this post addresses you:

You might be an angry pastor if …

• You always 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 is 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” (Proverbs 17:27). 

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 heavily measured not only on earth, but in heaven (James 3:1). 

A pastor once told me his church was having “multiple dumpster fires.” 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 meditating on it 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 so long to get my heart right. If you’re an angry pastor, I strongly encourage you to get serious about asking God to root out that anger before bitterness takes root in your heart, home, and ministry. 

Director of Pastoral Wellness
Mark Dance
Guidestone Financial Resources
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