March Madness: foolish anger

Coaches encounter all kinds of potential “anger triggers”: player performance, officiating miscues, difficult parents or community members… Continuing the “March Madness” theme of recent devotions, anger can lead us to say and do crazy (meaning, “foolish”) things. When our words and actions are motivated by anger, the results are usually unhealthy, unhelpful, and hurtful to others.

We may be tempted to rationalize our anger and its destructive consequences, seeing it as just a normal part of coaching or blaming it on the people or circumstances that triggered our anger. But Proverbs challenges us to resist the foolishness that anger can bring about rather than rationalizing it. The wise person responds to potential “anger triggers” differently, choosing to live according to God’s good design for us.

Consider two examples from Proverbs regarding foolish vs. wise responses to anger triggers:

Prov. 12:16 – “A fool is quick-tempered, but a wise person stays calm when insulted.”

Prov. 29:11 – “Fools vent their anger, but the wise quietly hold it back.”

It’s foolish to allow anger to drive our words and actions, whether in the coaching realm or in any other area of our life. But how is it possible to stay calm when insulted or to quietly hold back rather than venting when something stirs anger within us? We can summarize the teaching of the Bible about the difference between foolishness vs. wisdom when it comes to anger in this way:

Foolish people allow unfavorable circumstances to undermine their sense of control and well being, triggering an angry response. When we feel like we have to maintain control and have things go a certain way for life to be okay, we get angry when this isn’t happening. If we’re insulted or challenged by someone, we feel like we have to protect ourselves and fight for our rights. When something feels unfair or our expectations are not being met, we fly off the handle because we think our well being is threatened. Unfavorable circumstances trigger angry responses because we want to and need to be in control, rather than looking to God. This is foolishness.

Wise people recognize God is in control and he is with us, enabling us to trust him with unfavorable circumstances. With this perspective, we no longer feel the need to protect ourselves or fight for our rights when someone criticizes us or tries to push our buttons. Rather, we trust God’s presence and protection. Our identity is defined by Christ, not what others say or do to us – so we can stay calm when insulted. In addition, our well being doesn’t hinge on life always being fair or our expectations always being met. We trust that God is ultimately in control. Our life and our future are secure in him – so we can quietly hold back rather than venting anger.

There will always be potential “anger triggers” in coaching and life. It’s madness to allow these triggers to dictate your response, resulting in angry words and actions that are destructive to you and others. When you instead let the truth of God’s sovereign control and his presence with you dictate your response to potential anger triggers, you coach and live wisely. God is with you and he is in control. Trust him in every situation.

For reflection: Praise God for his sovereign control over all things and thank him for his presence with you at all times. Ask him to help you to trust him in situations that are potential anger triggers for you.