Temper, Temper

Do you have a Temper?           …I can relate.

My tendency was to explode when things were out of my control (only by the grace of God can I use the past tense). I have had great moments of success with this flaw, and horribly terrifying moments of failure. Through all of this I have discovered that the anger rises up in me when I feel that I am:

  • Disrespected
  • Intentionally disobeyed (whether that’s the truth or not)
  • Not trusting that what is supposed to happen will get done
  • Rushed

Sounds self-centered, doesn’t it? It is. Looking back, with what I call my ‘sober mind’ (because you can be drunk on anger just as much as you can be drunk on wine), every time I have lashed out, with a temper tantrum (and that’s what they are) it has been for self-centered reasons. This is not love.

The reality is my temper shows up when I’m not trusting that God has allowed the situation that is facing me to be there in the first place. I’m not really mad at the people that are suffering from my lack of gentleness, I’m mad that the situation is out of my control – and I react by sending my thoughts, words, and actions to that same place. This doesn’t accomplish anything except, separate the people that are important to me from the man I’ve worked so hard to become.

Does your temper cause your family to walk on these?

My temper makes me unapproachable. It chips away at my credibility. It causes people to “walk on eggshells” when they are around me, so as to not step on a land mine that will set off an explosion of my temper. It causes my children to be hesitant to bring their concerns, their problems, and their crisis to me because they are not sure how I will “react.” This is the opposite of what we want as fathers.

“Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly.”

King Solomon, Proverbs 14:29

I have discovered that when my children do, or say, something inappropriate – especially when they are not showing self-control – I rise to their level, and overtake their energy so they will hear my voice over their own and change… this does not work.

Don’t match their energy!

I have found that when I match their energy their fire is simply fueled because I’m trying to fight fire with fire…! When they were smaller, it did work (well… it stopped them from speaking) because I was big, and had a big voice and would literally overshadow them. However, this has led to a pattern of thinking, that has taught my children that if you speak loud enough you will get your point across. I am not proud of this ‘lesson,’ and I’m working now to rectify it (hard work).

I also have discovered that it helps, immensely, to have a plan; to know what to do when ____ happens. If you plan your course of ACTion, you will not leave as much to your emotions, which can lead to your foolishness, when your emotions are driving ‘the train.’ You will never be able to plan for every circumstance that will come up when you are parenting, however, having a handful of examples – that you (and your wife) pre-determine will be your action when your child fails – will make a huge difference in your parenting.

You will inevitably face situations that you are not ready for, and when this happens there is nothing wrong with removing yourself from the situation and deciding on an edifying course of action to be put into place at an appropriate time in the future.

In your plans, and in “those” moments of quick strategy, make sure that the way you ACT is appropriate and God-honoring. Remember, they are watching you and taking mental notes; you are their example of how a man should behave.

A bad temper is like any other sin or character flaw. God’s whole purpose for saving you is to make you more like His Son, which includes exchanging your flaws for His grace! Pray. Ask God to remove your selfish anger; ask Him to remind you of the many reasons, He has already shown you, that you can trust that He’s got this; ask Him to fill you with gentleness. Gentleness is a manly quality – no matter what the world says. If you are full of gentleness, there won’t be any room for a temper.

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