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Attitude Balance Check [T]

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Teach them to channel their anger and use it for good

Anger. Just hearing or seeing the word can incite fear. Only the word ‘death’ might incite more fear. What we believe about it will shape how we understand ourselves and others. We might try to avoid it, and not think about it, but at some point, we become angry. What then? What do we think about when we become angry? What’s underneath it? What action(s) proceed from it?


Depending on the person or the situation, the answers to these questions will vary widely. No matter the situation, the common thread running through situations where people become angry is simply, “I don’t like that” or “I’m against that” and “I care”. Built into us is the God-given reaction to injustice and evil. We ought to disapprove and be displeased when wrongs are done. That’s what anger is for. By example and by talking it through, we must get to the root of the heart from which anger flows in order to direct it to minister and help before it goes awry, out-of-control, and causes destruction. Anger doesn’t need to inevitably lead to alienation or hate or murder if played out to its logical end, although there is a tension between our createdness and our fallenness, between our ability to do good with God’s help and our proclivity toward evil that must be addressed. A lot happens in the time that passes as we become ‘slow to anger’ as our Heavenly Father is.

David Powlison calls the channeling of anger for good, the constructive displeasure of mercy. We can teach our children to recognize how anger plays itself out by revisiting it at its inception, helping them find what is right to be displeased about in a given situation, and with prayer, practicing self-control in the future, using this knowledge as a tool of ministry in the life of another. Oftentimes the key is finding the source of our discontent. When someone has disturbed our little kingdom of one, how can we broaden our vision to care about God’s kingdom beyond ourselves?


Rather than engaging in a war of words or fit of rage, is it possible to control our thoughts, words, and actions? Since patience (long-suffering) and self-control are the Holy Spirit’s fruit, can praying for help, wisdom, and discernment turn our anger constructive? How does this relate to the idea of suffering well? May we not waste our our anger but use it, and teach our children to use it, for good.

For further study and research read:

Exodus 34:6ff James 1:5-8, 19-20 Ephesians 4:26 Galations 5


David Powlison, “Anger in Action”, The Journal of Biblical Counseling, Fall 2006, pp. 6-15.

David Powlison, “The Constructive Displeasure of Mercy”, The Journal of Biblical Counseling, Fall 2006, pp. 16-25.

Edward T. Welch, “The Madness of Anger”,  The Journal of Biblical Counseling, Fall 2006, pp. 26-35.

Winston T. Smith, “Anger in Marriage”,  The Journal of Biblical Counseling, Fall 2006, pp. 36-45.

Edward T. Welch, “Living with an Angry Husband”,  The Journal of Biblical Counseling, Fall 2006, pp. 46-53.


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