What Is It About Parents and Anger?

July 1, 2015

Steve Midgley

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Steve Midgley

A Word from Your BCC Team: You’re reading Part Two of a three-part BCC Grace & Truth blog miniseries on Biblical Counseling and Anger. In today’s post, Steve Midgley addresses the question, What Is It About Parents and Anger? You can also read Part One by Bob Jones on, 3 Compelling Reasons Why We Must Deal with Our Sinful Anger.

The Question

What is it with parents and anger? Why do they get so angry? Or, depending on your point of view, what is it with parents these days?  Don’t they care what their kids are doing?

Most of us know how it goes when a parent rebukes a child for running into the road or because they have run off and disappeared in a shopping mall. Many of us will have been the parent in that very situation. Almost invariably it is an occasion for anger. At one level, that’s more than a little odd. Having snatched a child back from the brink of death or recovered them from the threat of a stranger abduction, you might expect a parent’s first instinct to be delight or even joy. But it isn’t, it is invariably rage. “Don’t you ever do that again!” “What were you thinking of—you must never ever run off like that again!”

The anger, of course, spills out of the love. It is precisely because the child is so prized and treasured that the prospect of losing them is so very awful. And so the parent rages against the folly that meant the child put their own life in danger.

So, it really shouldn’t surprise us that God, our heavenly Father, also becomes angry with us when our own folly puts us in spiritual danger. And it’s no surprise either that we see anger and exasperation in the life of Christ as He responds to the spiritual folly of the Pharisees in Mark 3:5 and the spiritual dullness of the disciples in Matthew 17:17.

In Our Ministry

How does this work out in our ministry and when we counsel those in trouble? How do we speak to those whose spiritual health is under threat? Is there a passion for their good? Is it obvious to those we counsel that we are deeply moved by the spiritual peril they are in? I sometimes wonder if our calm, considered, and oh so very measured exterior serves us as well as it might. Whether our impassive, “nothing you say will shock me” face communicates what we really believe? Does it tell people how much we think these things matter?

Of course, I realise we can get this wrong, even badly wrong. It would not do to allow our passion to spill over into displays of anger that are intemperate and ungodly. It would not be right if anger and irritation welled up not from concerns for a person’s spiritual welfare but from a sense of personal irritation that our most excellent counselling advice has been ignored. But if it is appropriate for parents to feel a passion for the safety of their children, shouldn’t we who pastor feel a passion for those we pastor? And at times ought we not to let it show?

Paul told the Christians in Thessalonica “that he dealt with each of [them] as a father deals with his own children” (1 Thessalonians 2:11). There was nothing dispassionate or businesslike about the way Paul cared for those for whom he felt pastorally responsible.

And while passion must never lead us into ungodliness, we need to realise that dispassion can lead us into ungodliness too. Our pastoral ministry and our counselling ministry ought to matter to us. It ought to matter enough that we are moved by what goes on in the lives of those we counsel. Moved to joy and moved to tears and yes, even sometimes, moved to anger.

Join the Conversation

What is the role of righteous anger in counseling and pastoral ministry?