Due to the nature of our vocation, there come times when all of us are pastoring under pressure.
For some it’s due to a misunderstanding in biblical authority within a local church; for some it’s a miscommunication or misunderstanding by a member toward the pastor or vice versa; for others it can be a continuation of a fight that began years before your advent as pastor, and now you’re caught in the middle of a “Hatfield vs. McCoys” battle that has killed other pastors throughout the history of the church; for others it’s an old-fashioned personality conflict or even, spiritually, a battle between two spirits.
The result is the pastor is angry.
I am far from exempt from feelings of anger. However, I’m thankful for the congregation I pastor that understands their pastor is growing and the church itself is growing—both are maturing in the Lord.
Whenever there has been occasions of correction, it is done quickly, and I never repeat it again. Honestly, I try not to even bring it home—and I live next door to the church. That way the church doesn’t have an angry pastor on its hands, and the pastor doesn’t have to needlessly, continually fight a battle.
However, there are times when a pastor gets angry. I want to make five suggestions on what to do when you find yourself filled with anger. These suggestions are borne on the tightropes of tension I have experienced in 34 years of ministry and 21 years of pastoral experience.
1. Find someone to talk to quickly.
Anger within a preacher can be a dangerous thing—especially when you don’t utilize wise counsel.
I have found out the mistakes I’ve made were due to the fact I reacted without talking with someone who could have given me another way of looking at an issue.
In San Diego, that person was Dr. Willie James Smith, pastor of the Calvary Baptist Church, who is now in Glory. Willie (please forgive the informality) was great because he was a Mississippian with a heavy Southern drawl, and he had pastoral experience, a summa cum laude from Bishop College and a doctoral degree in dealing with church conflicts.
He would remind me, “Houston, that ain’t worth a hill of beans” or, “Houston, slow your roll” or, “Houston, stand your ground.”
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