Anger is a signal and one worth listening to.
Harriot Lerner, Dance of Anger
“You May be Called When…..” is an occasional series from Lumunos exploring the variety of ways we hear God’s call in our lives. From the quote above, you have already figured out that today’s topic is anger.
Anger can get us in all kinds of trouble, no doubt about it. I have experienced the down side in relatively small ways (destroying the project I was trying to fix in a fit of frustration) and large ways (saying something in anger to someone I cared about). To state the obvious, anger is not fun. But anger can be a positive thing as well. When anger helps us to hear our call, it is worth listening to.
Just one example: Have you ever had the experience of seeing someone do his or her work poorly, and felt anger rise up in you? I have heard this kind of frustration when:
- Efficiency experts witness inefficiencies….
- Teachers see other teachers use their knowledge to bully others….
- Leaders experience other leaders using their power inappropriately…..
- Accountants witness other accountants doing sloppy work….
- Religious leaders see other religious leaders turn devotion into fear and hatred….
When we experience these things, we may want to (in the immortal words of Anne Lamott) “drink gin straight out of the cat dish.”
But there is an upside. Anger can remind us what we care about. We know the potential of our profession to do good in the world because we have seen it. We are invested. We care. Our frustration is because this good work is not being stewarded. “This could be done better. This should be done better,” we fume. We don’t have this same level of intensity when looking at other professions. Our anger tells us that this work really matters to us.
Anger doesn’t always mean we are called to this work. There can be many other factors at play. But it may be a signal, and it is definitely worth listening to.
Reflection Questions: Have you felt angry at the way someone was or wasn’t doing their work? What does that anger mean?