Productive Anger

“A man is about as big as the things that make him angry.” – Winston Churchill

“Speak when you are angry – and you’ll make the best speech you’ll ever regret.” – Dr. Laurence J. Peter

I had the pleasure of catching up with an old coworker this past weekend. While we mostly talked about our personal lives, we also got a chance to catch up on what each other is doing at work and the opportunities and challenges we face. It’s always interesting to me to see that people who really care – those who are really invested in their organization and its future – often go through periods of feeling disenfranchised and even angry with the decisions of their organization. I’m not talking about being angry because one feels personally wronged (although that sometimes happens); I’m talking about feeling frustrated with not having the ability to help your organization make better choices. And while no one can be assured that their way is the right way, we shouldn’t be surprised that sometimes these situations can create a degree of anger wtihin us.

Understandably, we’re taught on some tacit level that  if we disagree with the organization’s decisions, that concern – not anger – is the more appropriate response. That’s probably true behaviorally (I’ve not yet “cleansed” the conference room after a meeting a la Jesus in the temple… yet), but we need not be ashamed when frustration bleeds over into anger. I’ve seen similar situations within the church. No one wants to seem like they’re too sensitive or easily provoked, but when we ask people to heavily invest their time, talents and their heart into an organization, we get the whole heart – not just the fuzzy part.

Fortunately, there is such a thing as holy anger. Simply put, holy anger is that anger which stems from somthing that is justifiably upsetting and that is handled appropriately. As Paul told the Ephesians, “In your anger, do not sin.” Jesus and many other people in the Bible grew angry at times without letting their anger lead them to sin. The real test for us, it seems, is to handle it well… to channel it into productive means of improving the organization, and, when those opportunties arise, to seek the campanionship and counsel of our fellow workplace believers to give us some healthy perspective.

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