Killing The Spider And Eliminating Anger Management
By Phil Scovell
A few years ago, I recall hearing about the small toys sold for
personal anger management. They were soft toys that one could pick up
from their desk, or which they could pull from a drawer, when they
felt anger or frustration, stress or pressure, and throw them against
a nearby wall. The soft toy would then say something such as, "Oh,
that felt good," or, "What a relief." They sometimes just made a
noise like breaking glass or a groaning sound. This was advertised to
assist office workers to passively diminish, or otherwise, manage
their feelings of anger. Did it work? Sure, to a point but the anger
never went away.
My favorite all time Christian joke is about the little boy who
had the right theological idea. The story goes this way.
Every Sunday night, the pastor of the small church would call on
elderly Brother Jones to close in prayer. The man prayed eloquently,
with flowing glowing words of majesty, and then, just before saying,
"Amen," he would say, "And Lord, just clean all those spider webs out
of our lives." Sunday night after Sunday night, these exact words by
the same Godly man were spoken in his closing prayer.
finally, one night Johnny, now 10 years of age, and who had heard
this same prayer for literally years, couldn't stand it any longer and
following the closing prayer by Brother Jones, went to speak with the
elderly man. "Brother Jones," he said honestly and sincerely,
"instead of cleaning out all those spider webs from our lives each
week, why don't we just find that spider and kill him."
I tell this story so many times, the people in my church grown
every time they hear it now. The story has such great spiritual
application, though, I use it every chance I get because it proves a
very good point. It also fits this topic of our problems with anger.
Anger is a natural, or should I say, unnatural, coping mechanism.
Throwing a soft toy against the wall that squeaks or says something
funny upon impact, slamming a door hard, smacking your fist into your
palm, throwing something, swearing, honking the car horn and screaming
in your car at someone getting in your way, giving someone the finger,
kicking a chair across the room, are just a few of the more mild forms
of released anger. Slapping your child or your wife, driving
recklessly, committing road rage, getting stone drunk, throwing a
chair through a window, kicking the family dog into unconsciousness,
punching the guy out at the ball game because he is in your way,
punching a hole in the sheet rock, for which you'll have to repair
later, unless, of course, your fist hit a stud and you broke your
hand, waving your unloaded handgun around and acting like you are
going to shoot your wife, are a few of the more violent forms of anger
release. All, however, are indications of something much deeper and
that is exactly where you are going to have to go, that is, deeper, if
you want to be totally free from anger. That's right. I said you can
be totally free from anger.
Now, lest the reader think I am perfect, I have kicked a door
down, pounded my hands on the table top so hard, the bruises hurt for
a couple of weeks, thrown a small hand held tape recorder across the
room, threw a glass of water at the wall, kicked a few things until
they were broken, slammed doors so hard glass broke, and a few other
things I don't even specifically recall now. I never thought I had a
temper or a problem with anger either. In fact, whenever I did such
things, the anger felt good. I was remorseful afterwards, of course,
but I figured, since I was a Godly Christian, that was a good thing
because it meant I must not really have meant it in the first place.
Plus, I used to always say, "It takes me a long time to get mad but
when I do, I really get mad. Once it is over, it's over and it is
ok." Yeah, sure it was. Besides, I always confessed my anger as sin
to the Lord so that made everything ok. Right? I was being Biblical,
wasn't I? So, if you said you were sorry later, it was ok to release
a little anger once and awhile. Right? Sure, of course. Let me ask
you a question. How much is too much, or not enough, anger? Of
course, you realize I am not asking you that question but Jesus is.
Today we have specialists, highly educated professionals, getting
thousands of dollars an hour to come to corporations to conduct
management anger classes. It almost always focuses on how to defuse,
or otherwise short circuit, the anger when it begins to surface.
Quite simply, lets side track the anger before it is released. Sounds
great. Does it work? It helps, most likely, but why not kill the
spider so we don't have all those sticky disgusting spider webs around
in the first place. At your next anger management class, ask your
instructor or therapist about killing the spider and see what they
say. If they don't understand, tell them the joke I just told you and
ask them for comments. You won't like what they say. The bottom line
is, they don't believe it is that easy and they don't believe you can
be anger free.
A few years ago, during a very desperate time of my life,
thinking I was going crazy due to anxiety and panic attacks that were
off the scale, I had a single session with a psychologist. She told
me, whenever I felt the anxiety attack coming, to picture a huge stop
sign in my mind and focus on it. Did it work? What do you think? Do
these government and private industry anger management classes help?
That is, do their management coping techniques work? Sure they help.
The real question is, does it kill the spider? Maybe the question
should be, which do you prefer; coping or eliminating your anger?
Back in the late seventies, I was an assistant pastor in a small
town in western Colorado. Just before moving to this small town,
someone gave my wife a box of canning jars all packed very nicely. In
the small church we were working in, a lady called me one day and
asked if I would find that box of canning jars for her. She said she
would come over, they didn't live far away, and pick them up and do
some canning for my wife and I. I went out into our attached garage,
dug around until I found the large box and as I began pulling it free
in order to carry it into the house, my hands came in contact with
some spider webbing. It felt totally different than any spider web I
had ever felt. It was tough, strong, and when I tried pulling it off
the box and away from my fingers, it felt almost as if it were made of
elastic. I thought nothing more about it. The box had hand holes cut
into the side of either end so sticking my hand into one end, I pulled
the box free and carried it into the house. I sat the box on our
counter top and a few minutes later, the lady stopped by and picked up
the box. About a half an hour later, our phone rang and I answered
it. Jo Ann said, "Phil, I am unpacking the canning jars. Did you
know there was a black widow spider inside?" I told her about the
spider webbing I had pulled away from the box and she informed me to
stop screwing around with stuff in the garage because those types of
webs were characteristic of black widows. I was indeed careful from
then on. Let me ask you this question. Do you think just knowing
there was a spider got rid of it? Of course not and just knowing you
have anger, and ripping away the cobwebs won't make the spider go away
Anger isn't the problem. Anger means something hurts some place
deep down inside. The display of outward anger allows for some
emotional relief but anger, carefully guarded, suppressed and
repressed, and held in, can, and does, create physical problems. In
other words, the anger dumps into the body somewhere and there are
physical responses to that anger.
A few years ago, I was attending a small church. The pastor
invited me to sort of work as his assistant pastor. I did so. As I
got to know him, I really grew to love him. His preaching and
teaching was as good as any I had ever heard and he seemed to like
people. He was humorous and enjoyed having a good time even in
church. He could sing well, was excellent at leading worship, and I
felt he should have been pastoring a church of 500 people instead of
20 or so we had in this particular church. He had one problem,
though, and that was anger and he didn't know it.
As I got to know him and learned about his early life as a child,
I learned why he was angry. He used his anger to push people away.
Yes, it worked every time. His anger was right down alarming at
times. He had taken a church of about 100 people and in 12 years, he
was down to about 6 members. The church bills were not being paid,
the pastor wasn't getting enough to live on, and he began blaming his
own church. He also experience horrible back pain at times which
would, on occasion, take him out of ministry for several weeks at a
time. Was this due to anger? I know it was for a fact based upon
things he would tell me personally.
Eventually, since he was using me as a sounding board for his
anger and he was literally naming individuals in the church to me
privately, I felt, as his brother in the Lord, the need for
accountability. During one of his angry displays one day, I pointed
out to him what he was doing to him and his own people. This man
prided himself on knowing the Word. In order to allow a place for
anger to exist in his life as a pastor, he insisted upon arguing from
a strictly Biblical standpoint. Let me illustrate what I mean.
during one of his down times due to his back being out, I was
taking his place. He had called and told me to tell the handful of
people we still had at that time, that we needed about 250 dollars for
church expenses. His wife played the piano and she was there that
day. I felt led for all of us to gather around her and to lay hands
on her to pray for her, the pastor, and their physical and financial
needs. I think she had a cold herself that day. I then said, after
we prayed, that I had 160 dollars left from my income tax return that
I would put toward the church financial need. Others began saying
what they would put in. My youngest son and his wife, for example,
spoke up and he said he would cover the balance. Others spoke up and
said they would put in certain dollar amounts and we ended up with
over 300 dollars.
Later, the pastor was complaining to me over the phone that
people were not giving enough and that was our problem. Our problem
wasn't that at all. You cannot have six members in your church, three
of which are in their seventies and living on social security, and
have big Sunday offerings. The problem was we were not reaching
anyone with the Gospel. The church, in other words, was spiritually
dead. Yes, can you believe that? A spiritually dead Charismatic
church? By the way, the number of people you have does not determine
if your church is alive or dead. We have had Holy Ghost worship and
praise and shouting times in the living room of my home many times.
You don't even need, for that matter, a church building. Why?
Because, if you are born again, you are a part of the Body of Christ
and where 2 or 3 are gathered together, Christ is in their midst.
During this angry outburst my pastor was experiencing, he said,
"Nobody even came and offered to pray for me and anoint me with oil."
The tone to his voice was harsh, bitter, and hostile. He said this
right after he complained that we, the church, were not giving enough
to the church financially. I pointed out to him his attitude was
wrong. I told him that I personally thought of asking my son to drive
with me out to his home, which was 30 minutes from the church, to
anoint him with oil and to lay hands on him but I didn't for two
reasons. First, he, the pastor, never asked. Secondly, I didn't
think, even if I went, he would allow me to pray for him based upon
his attitude. Yes, I told him both things. He wanted me to prove
what I said from the Bible so read the following instructions given to
us by James.
"14 Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church;
and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the
Lord: 15 And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord
shall raise him up; and if he have committee sins, they shall be
forgiven him. 16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one
for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a
righteous man availeth much," (James 5:14-16).
Do you see it? If you are sick, you are to call for the elders
of the church. Our pastor was too proud to call for the elders of his
church to anoint him with oil. I pointed out to him that it was his
responsibility to call for us to come and pray for him and not the
other way around. He backed down and admitted that was Biblically
right but his pride kept his anger in place.
That is another aspect of anger which is rarely seen, that is,
pride. You will always find pride under anger. How do I know? I
have experienced it myself following an almost fit of rage I had one
evening arguing with my youngest son. I said things, and thought
things, that were so unchristian, when my son left, I sat in my office
and cried like a baby and tried to figure out why I had exploded in
cataclysmic rage. As I prayed, sobbing, begging God to show me what
was wrong, He told me it was caused by pride. I was so emotionally
upset, I was unable to pray about this one by myself. Two days later,
as I sat in a man's office and we shared a prayer session together,
the Lord healed me in many places I never knew existed. If you want
to read about this experience of healing, read my personal testimony
called, "I Flew Kites With Jesus."
I have learned from both personal experience, and through praying
with others, anger is used to cover the truth. What truth? The truth
about how we really feel about ourselves, the fear that frightens us
so much, we has suppressed it almost out of our consciousness, The
doubts we have about how others see us, the guilt that we maybe just
aren't good enough and God isn't happy, and the fear the somebody,
maybe even in the church, is going to find out what we are really like
and if they do, they won't like us. The fear generated by rejection
alone is Titanic and we will do anything to keep that from happening.
Fortunately, there is a way of living free from anger and from
the fear of anger. No, there is not a single answer because everybody
is different. Yes, there are common elements to anger and frankly,
most people, when prayed with, discover they have anger that they
never knew was there. Like me, for example.
How about you, now? Isn't it time you let Jesus show you the
truth about who He is and who you are so you can be anger free? Let
Jesus show you how to kill the spider creating all those webs in your
life that are trying to hinder your intimate relationship with Him.
End Of Document
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