A dear friend preached his midweek message. On the way home his wife said, “Hon, all you did tonight was take your frustrations out on the people.” Folks that just won’t work. Angry leaders are a danger to themselves and others.
Perhaps you are familiar with the story of a leader who had become something of a worshipper of Jehovah. His commitment was incomplete; perhaps because he liked attention and was comfortable with a polytheism. In a moment of self-interest the leader decided to erect a monument to how he thought worship should be done. By the way, those moments that begin with “self-interest” are dangerous in many ways.
When the work was done, the monument stood tall; and the leader instructed everyone to give allegiance to his way of doing things. No questions were permitted and as this leader did business using the age old pattern, “My way or the high way.”
Well, as often happens with a leader – there were people who had other ideas about how things should be done. These people resisted the leader’s directive. As the story goes, they resisted without really manifesting a bad spirit about it all. They were willing to take whatever discipline the leader felt was needed. These resistors to the leader’s self-interest were doing what they felt to be the right thing. Actually, they were doing the right thing!
Their behavior hit the leader’s button – you know the one all leaders have – the bright red “Now I’m MAD!” button. His application of “church discipline” was swift and severe. If they were going to behave in such a manner he would permanently remove them from the choir. His anger was so hot that he threw caution to the wind.
The anger of a leader resulted in fall-out beyond the target of his “unholy mad.” Some of his followers who had always been able to handle the heat didn’t survive his being mad. Do you recognize the leader Nebuchadnezzar and his anger at three Hebrews? Nebuchadnezzar’s anger cost him followers! Has your anger ever cost you followers? You may have even been right in decision but wrong in spirit – either way costs.
Not only was there the cost of those who died, but can you imagine the emotions of the family and friends of those who died because of their leader’s irrational anger. I wonder if others became less willing to commit to work on his behalf? I’ve known leaders who were emotionally volatile – my response – to keep my distance.
Leadership and anger is rarely a good mix. We all have our hot buttons; certain things stir our emotions. An effective leader chooses to respond based on something other than the heat of the moment. Things leaders like Nebuchadnezzar should consider:
1. Be aware of your emotional self. Know when you are angry; determine what has you angry and do your best to step away from the heat of it.
2. Do not deal with volatile issues in the heat of emotion. Let your emotions cool a bit; give yourself time to think and then respond appropriately. Mike Williams of Apopka, Florida gave me wise counsel regarding my responding to a difficult situation, “Carlton, don’t add fuel to the fire.”
3. Outbursts of anger have peripheral costs. Nebuchadnezzar lost people committed to him and his leadership because he reacted with such intensity. Consider the family and children of the person who has made you so angry. Is your angry response worthy of the cost there will be to those people?
4. Deal with “anger provoking” things in a private and straight-forward manner. Jesus taught us to talk to an individual rather than to a congregation. I’ve watched leaders kill a good revival spirit by feeling the need to berate some person who had annoyed them. Face-to-face confrontation is not always comfortable but it is healthy and much wiser than taking one’s frustrations out on an entire church.
Sometimes leaders need “anger management” classes for themselves. If you do – for the sake of HIM, HIS WORK, HIS CHURCH & HIS PEPLE don’t be so proud as to not get help. Don’t let heated emotion limit your ability to influence others. Perhaps you have recommendations of material that would have helped Nebuchadnezzar to have better dealt with his anger. Please pass them on with your comments.