Wednesday, January 14, 2009

His Anger Ruined His Ministry

Anger will mess you up. Take for instance this true story:

I know a guy who was leading a ministry once. I watched his anger build and would check in from time to time to ask if everything was okay. He assured me it was. “It looks like you are burning the candle from both ends and appear stressed out” I observed. “I’ve got it under control” he said. Repeatedly I would revisit the issue and each time his response was the same. Yet his irritability grew, as did his cynicism and negative comments about other people. He was becoming toxic.

At first his comments were like velvet daggers; you know, friendly insults that were contained in jokes. At this point he was not openly expressing his true anger, but it was leaking out subtlety (something I failed to notice at the time). Eventually it escalated into full-blown misbehavior for all to see. His countenance changed. His personality changed. He became bitter, hostile, harsh, and difficult to be around. He had frequent bouts of serious irritability and was unable to resolve conflicts. He often started arguments. Over time he became withdrawn. The velvet daggers tuned into constant sarcasm, ridicule, and mean-spirited jokes. His communication became condescending - that is, he spoke down to people. He also became domineering in his ministry area. His ministry began to hemorrhage at the seams as people began to drop out by the droves. Like rats jumping from a sinking ship, people were getting out while they still had the chance. He was grinding it into the ground… all by himself.

A spirit of criticism and suspicion took control of his personality. He became hyper-sensitive, short-fused, and impatient. Gossip, whispering, and negative talk became the order of the day. He morphed into another person. Nearly everyone within his gravitational field could feel his downward pull. His negativity was causing people to withdraw - he was becoming marginalized by his very own friends because no one wanted to be around an angry man.

Then one day, it happened. He erupted. It wasn’t pretty. He lost his ministry. And every bit of it was self-inflicted. Even to this day he places the blame upon others rather than himself. He can’t even own it.

My biggest mistake? Not acting sooner.

FYI: I wrote a previous article about anger which offers a Biblical perspective how quarrelsome people are disqualified from the ministry. You may read it here.