I’ve decided to get a little more intentional about my own development as a leader. So, I will be focusing on one passage of scripture each week and applying it to my own life. Of course, I’ve decided to pull you all along for the ride.
I’m going to call it a devotional, even though I can’t honestly say I know how to write a “devotional.” This will be the only one I post here on the blog. If you’d like to receive more, please subscribe to my weekly devotional email list in order to receive future articles…
“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” James 1:19,20
A few weeks ago, I was driving down a little back road in the Green Hills area of Nashville at lunchtime. If you know anything about Green Hills, you know that the traffic can be atrocious. If you’re not from around Nashville, feel free to substitute the most maddening part of your daily commute. I know you have one.
I was hustling to an appointment that I was running late for. It was just one of those days where the first meeting runs late and then the entire day suffers behind it; much like a line of falling dominoes. Needless to say, I was in a grumpy mood.
I pulled up behind this big white Ford Super Duty, stopped in the middle of the road for no apparent reason. He had no blinker on; just hanging out. We lingered there for what couldn’t be more than 30 seconds, but felt like hours.
Suffice it to say that I expressed my impatience, frustration, and anger in a less than Godly way…
Imagine the look on my face when this tiny green sedan emerged from in front of that big white truck. I hadn’t seen it sitting there, waiting to turn left amidst the endless oncoming traffic. I was too focused on the man in the white truck and the fact that he was in my way.
I was so utterly ticked off at him that I completely lost sight of what was going on. He was stuck behind that little green sedan and there was nothing he could do about it. He was just as much a victim of circumstance as I was, but I was blinded by my own angry perception. My anger quickly turned to conviction.
How often do we do this in our lives?
We flip out on our loved ones or our employees.
We justify a descent into destructive anger.
We lose control of our tempers and let hurtful words fly.
We break hearts, crush dreams, and destroy relationships.
What advice does James have for us?
Be Quick to Hear
Before you fly off the handle, take a moment to step back and hear the other person out. Maybe there was a good reason why you’re staff member missed their deadline today. Perhaps that group of friends didn’t intentionally snub you on Friday night. Maybe that grumpy server at the restaurant has a perfectly good excuse for being less than chipper today.
Be Slow to Speak
Even when you think you’re ready to respond, take another step back and make sure you’ve chosen your words wisely. James goes on to teach about the destructive power of our words later in this epistle. He equates our tongues to a “wild fire” and a “world of unrighteousness” capable of blessing God in one breath and cursing our brothers in the next.
Speak deliberately; you never know where your words will land and what potential damage they can do to their hearer. As leaders, we need to build our people up. Even when an honest rebuke is necessary, it needs to be constructive.
Be Slow to Anger
Save yourself from quick anger. Notice how this passage does not say that anger is always unwarranted. Ephesians 4:26 tells us to be angry, but not to sin. When someone sins against us, we’re allowed to feel anger, but only insomuch as this anger does not lead US to sin.
However, we must not act out of this anger. We need to cool off and procede wisely. Do whatever you need to do in order to approach each situation objectively, because “the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” Truly, it doesn’t.
I will pray that I can learn to be quicker to hear, slower to speak, and slower to anger.
I’ll pray the same for each and every one of you. Have a blessed week.
I hope you have found this article to be helpful. I’ll look forward to growing together and focusing on these specific issues each week. As I said, I won’t post any further devotionals on the blog here. Please take a moment to subscribe to my weekly devotional if you’d like to continue along with me.
Photo credit: Bishoy Marcus