Angry All the Time
Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome . . . 1 Timothy 3:2-3
In my attempts to eat healthy, I generally avoid sugars, breads, and pasta, but in doing so, sometimes I run low on carbohydrates. This doesn’t manifest as fatigue, but rather as irritability. I often don’t see it though. I’m usually not an angry, argumentative person, but in my low-carb condition I just can’t figure out what’s wrong with everybody else. I literally think, Why is everyone purposefully trying to tick me off me today? I know it sounds absurd, but even when confronted by my wife or kids about being crabby, I just can’t see it. It’s their problem. They’re the ones being irritable, unreasonable, and cantankerous – not me.
In today’s passage, Paul continued his description of a mature Christian leader. In it, he said that a leader must be gentle, not violent or quarrelsome. Paul must have known those whose lives were defined by anger, conflict, and opposition. This is the guy who is always right while everyone else is always wrong and stupid. His interpersonal relationships are marked by continual conflict and while it should be obvious that he’s the problem, he sees his misery as caused by those around him. He’s perpetually unhappy and so he blames his wife, his kids, his boss, and his coworkers. I wouldn’t be so mad if everyone stopped making me angry . . . Paul must have also known how toxic this attitude of anger was for this individual’s relationships in family, work, and church.
For some, this is the life struggle. Often anger goes along with substance use, but there are those who’ll never struggle with drugs or alcohol, but who will rather have a life struggle of simply being cantankerous. The problem – like me in my low-carb state – is that they often have a hard time seeing it. It’s everyone else’s fault that they’re miserable and angry. Also like my low-carb anger, while they’re unable to admit that they’re the problem, they’ll never be able to address it.
For me, I must listen to those around me, being humble enough to acknowledge that maybe I’m in the wrong. If I don’t want to persist in my state of conflict, I must admit the problem and take steps to address it. Usually, for me, it’s as simple as eating a banana. For the chronically angry individual though, it may mean counseling, medications, and radical life changes. Transformation is hard work. Daily though, if we want to know the lives for which we were made, we must admit our flaws and then do whatever it takes to change them.