Message by Rev. Erny McDonough
Fisherman’s Chapel, Port O’Connor, Texas
I Cor. 13:5 “…love is not easily provoked …not easily angered…”
Intro: We began a journey, you and me, into the subject of Anger Management, even though neither of us truly wanted to talk about it! We looked at modern anger and noticed that most anger is viewed as immature or uncivilized, because most were “temper tantrums.” We also saw how that bottled up anger or sand bagging could be just as damaging causing such things as clinical depression with its symptoms of obsessions, phobias, addictions, and manic tendencies and even bipolar disorder. We noted that most people tend to express their anger through a fight-or-flight response.
Henry Drummonds wrote in “The Greatest Thing In The World,” that “No form of vice, not worldliness, not greed of gold, not drunkenness itself, does more to unchristianize society than evil tempers. For embittering life, for breaking up communities, for destroying the most sacred relationships, for devastating homes, for withering up men and women, for taking the bloom of childhood, for sheer gratuitous misery-producing power, this influence stands alone.”
Anger is a good emotion used both by God Almighty and Jesus Christ! The greatest problem with anger is that it covers up other emotions like fear, frustration, and anxiety. It is only as we learn the difference between the beneficial anger and the destructive anger that we can become what we were created to be.
Today, we are going to examine the fight-or-flight response to anger.
I. Aggressive Anger: (Fight)
The symptoms of aggressive anger include these:
A. Threats, such as frightening people by saying how you could harm them, their property, or their prospects if often a symptom of aggressive anger. Finger pointing, fish shaking, and even wearing clothing or symbols associated with violent behavior constitutes a threat. How many have been victims of tailgating, excessive horn blowing, or door slamming? I have told you about the time our oldest son went to his room upset and slammed his bedroom door. I responded by removing the door and placing it in the garage until he learned this kind of actions would not be tolerated.
B. Hurtfulness, such as physical violence, verbal abuse, biased or vulgar jokes, and even breaking a confidence can be forms the fight response. Playing loud music, using foul language, ignoring people’s feelings, and willfully discriminating shows hurtfulness. Blaming others, punishing people for unwarranted deeds, and labeling others poorly may seem to be harmless activities, but they often mask the fight.
C. Destructiveness, such as destroying property, harming animals, reckless driving, and alcohol and chemical abuse should be viewed as aggressive anger. Some will set out to destroy a relationship between two people just to express their rage.
D. Bullying, such as we see on our news where this mother and daughter used the internet to bully a 13 year old girl to the point that she hang herself must not be tolerated in a civilized society. Persecuting, pushing or shoving, and shouting are often signs of bullying. Using the power to oppress others and playing on people’s weaknesses is similar to using your car to force someone off the roadway.
E. Unjust Blaming, such as accusing other people for your personal mistakes, blaming people for your own feelings, and making general accusations, such as “If it were not for the Democrats, our nation would be better!” are symptoms of aggressive anger.
F. Manic Behavior, such as speaking too fast, walking too fast, and even working too much and expecting others to follow you can spell real problems for you. Often driving too fast and reckless spending can be signs of manic behavior!
G. Grandiosity, like showing off, demanding center state all the time, not listening, trying to talk over people’s heads, even expecting “kiss and make-up sessions” to solve problems are out of the norm. Also always expressing mistrust of others, failure to delegate, and being a poor loser in insignificant matters can signals problems.
E. Self-Centerness displayed by ignoring other’s needs and not responding to requests for help can be acts of aggression.
F. Vengeance, such as being over-punitive, refusing to forgive, and bringing up hurtful memories from the past must be seen as over the line actions.
G. Unpredictability, such as explosive ranges over minor frustrations, attacking indiscriminately, dispensing unjust punishments and inflicting harm on others for the sake of it must not be tolerated. Often unpredictability is acted out by constant illogical arguments.
I know this is a long list, but many times we see these types of behaviors and never recognize them as aggression, even when we see them in our own lives! Examine your own lives in view of this list and see if the fight response is your choice of action!
II. Passive Anger – (Flight)
Passive anger is often expressed in the following ways:
A. Secretive Behaviors, such as stockpiling resentments that are expressed behind people’s backs, giving the silent treatment or under the breath muttering, putting other people down, gossiping, anonymous complaints, poison pen letters, and even conning can spell real problems. Avoiding eye contact and stealing, especially “just for the fun of it” are often flight expressions.
B. Manipulation, as seen in provoking people to aggression and then patronizing them, provoking aggression but staying on the sidelines, sabotaging relationships, and using a third party to convey negative feelings, is not the way to properly motivate people! Manipulation can be seen in emotional blackmail, false tearfulness, faking illnesses, withholding money or resources, and even using sexual provocation.
C. Self-Blame is often a tool for flight. Apologizing too often, being overly critical, and inviting unnecessary criticism fools very few people as to the true motivation.
D. Self-Sacrifice, such as being overly helpful, making do with second best, quietly making long suffering sighs without accepting help, or lapping up gratefulness can be signs of problems.
E. Ineffectualness, such as setting yourself and others up for failure, choosing unreliable people to depend on, being accident prone, underachieving, and expressing frustration at insignificant things but ignoring serious ones is often a sign of flight.
F. Dispassion is characterized by giving the cold shoulder or phony smiles, looking cool, sitting on the fence while others sort things out, not responding to other’s anger, and talking of frustrations but showing no feelings. Also dispassionate people often dampen their feelings with substance abuse, overeating and/or oversleeping, and by giving inordinate amounts of time to machines, like computers or video games.
G. Obsessive behaviors, such as needing to be clean and tidy, making a habit of constantly checking things, over-dieting or overeating should be areas of concern. Perfectionism – demanding that all jobs are done perfectly can be a sign of flight!
Conclusion: I realize that we have not begun to deal with anger management, but until we understand the signs of inappropriate anger, we can not learn how to control it. Remember, God has the answer for all our anger needs – let us seek Him and receive His help in our times of need!