Proverbs 16: 32Better a patient person than a warrior, one with self-control than one who takes a city.
During his 28 seasons with Ohio State Buckeye Football, Head Coach Wayne “Woody” Hayes’ team won five national championships and amassed an incredible 205-61-10 win-loss-tie record. Coaching during the civil rights struggle in the US, Hayes was one of the first coaches to recruit African-American players. He apparently treated young people with respect without regard to race or socio-economic class, which helped Ohio State avoid the anti-war demonstration violence other college campuses saw in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s[i] One would think that Woody Hayes was the dream coach, but he had a dark side.
Hayes apparently threw a punch at a sportswriter following a loss; he started a fight with an opposing Athletic Director; he shoved a camera into the face of a news photographer, he charged at an ABC cameraman; and he often stormed the field launching profanity laced tirades at the referees. But Hayes demise came at the 1978 Gator Bowl when, late in the 4th quarter, the opposing team’s player, Charlie Bauman, intercepted a ball thrown by Ohio State. Bauman ran up the field and out of bounds near Coach Hayes. After Bauman got up, Hayes punched him in the throat which triggered a bench-clearing brawl. Following the incident Hayes refused to resign and instead was fired; he never coached again.
The Bible has a fair bit to say about anger and the danger it poses. This is not to be confused with righteous anger (also known as righteous indignation) such as demonstrated by Jesus (Matthew 21:12; Mark 3:5) or as instructed to believers (Ephesians 4:26). There is another type of anger which is dangerous and sinful. In fact, it is so dangerous that King Solomon advised that we should not make friends with a hot-tempered person, and in fact we shouldn’t even associate with them (Proverbs 22:24).
1 Samuel 25 tells the story of a rich man named Nabal. King David was in the wilderness with his warriors. For much time, his troops had been with Nabal’s shepherds treating them well, even providing them protection. During sheep-shearing time David sent his servants to Nabal requesting some meat to celebrate the festive time. Nabal insulted the servants and David, and sent them away with nothing. When David heard this, he armed his men and headed towards Nabal’s camp to destroy them. Fortunately for Nabal, he had a wise wife named Abigail who, without Nabal’s knowledge, quickly assembled gifts and rode with her servants toward David. When she met him, she threw herself to the ground and amongst many other things she said: “Please pay no attention, my lord, to that wicked man Nabal. He is just like his name—his name means Fool, and folly goes with him.” (vs. 25). David relented and an entire family was saved due to Abigail’s wisdom. Conversely, an entire family was almost destroyed because of an angry, foolish man.
Apparently, Christian counselors report that 50 percent of people who come in for counseling have problems dealing with anger[ii]. This is a very serious issue that can’t be justified. If you struggle with anger you need to go to God in repentance (1 John 1:9), expressing a desire to deal with it. You may need Christian counseling to help you work through past abuse or learned patterns of behavior. You may need to set up accountability relationships with trusted mentors or friends. Do whatever it takes to deal with the destructive power of anger. In doing so you will save yourself and perhaps your loved ones around you.