man looking in window contemplating emotions of anger and stress

The Secret to Controlling Anger

By Chip Ingram

Most of us already know that we have an intelligence quotient (IQ). And most recently, we’ve learned the importance of our emotional intelligence (EI), also referred to as emotional quotient (EQ). But did you know that we also have an Anger Quotient, or AQ?

Our AQ is our ability to manage and control our anger. It’s affected by our environment plus our perspective, multiplied by our obedience to Ephesians 4:26: “Be angry, yet, do not sin. Do not let the sun go down on your anger, lest you give the devil a foothold, or an opportunity.”

Remember, anger in itself isn’t bad. As a natural emotion, Jesus actually commands us to be angry. But we always need to keep our anger in check.

This is difficult for many of us, as we find that our anger can quickly build up or escalate, potentially hurting or destroying some of our most important relationships.

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But here’s what I’ve found: If there’s one, simple thing that contributes to the destructive type of anger in my life, it is stress.

Under pressure, anger has a way of leaking out. The more stressed out, burned out, overwhelmed, or busy that we become, the more our anger will build, ready to explode at any moment.

That’s why the number one stress reducer is to eliminate hurry from our lives.

Dallas Willard once said: “Speed and godliness are incompatible. Speed and peace are incompatible. Hurry and loving others are incompatible. Hearing God’s voice and hurry are incompatible. Ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.”

I am a Type A personality and characterized as a driven person. I have also been known to be a workaholic. I’m the kind of guy who used to arrive to a meeting one minute before it starts because technically, I knew I wouldn’t be late, and I could still do those five things on my to-do list just before I got there.

At one time in my life, I believed that I had to be everywhere and do everything – and I had to hurry to do it. And the more of it I could do, the more God would be pleased.

Then, one day I realized that my hurry was rooted in arrogance. My being overextended was rooted in my grandiosity. Although I was doing some really significant things for God for all the right reasons, I had come to believe that I’d become indispensable.

But God wasn’t impressed with my hurried life, my ability to multi-task, or my dwindling to-do list — especially when it caused me to be short tempered with a staff member, neglect time with my wife and kids, or be distant with God.

I decided to ruthlessly eliminate hurry from my life.

Here’s what it looked like for me. For two years, I purposefully drove in the righthand lane of the freeway. I also didn’t count how many cars went by faster than me. When I was at the grocery store, I decided I would actually pick the longest line instead of the shortest one.

It was painful, at first. But then, something amazing started happening. I started relating to people again. Pretty soon the knots in my stomach went away when I was driving. And I began to slow way down in my head.

Then, I started doing some spontaneous, non-urgent things.

I’d get to the airport an hour and a half early, sometimes two hours. And once I was there, I’d have a very good cup of coffee, put my feet up, and spend a little time writing in my journal. I’d thank God for some of the people in my life.  Sometimes, I’d make some phone calls just to encourage or connect with people who God spontaneously laid on my heart.

Was I perfect? No. But doing these things helped me to slow down – way down – and helped me control my anger a lot better.

What about you? What are some ways you might eliminate the hurry in your life?

To learn more about God’s purpose for our anger and to get some helpful tools to help share anger in a healthy way, check out Chip’s series Overcoming Emotions that Destroy.

Written By

Chip Ingram

Founder & Teaching Pastor, Living on the Edge

Chip Ingram is the CEO and teaching pastor of Living on the Edge, an international teaching and discipleship ministry. A pastor for over thirty years, Chip has a unique ability to communicate truth and challenge people to live out their faith. He is the author of many books, including The Real God, Culture Shock and The Real Heaven. Chip and his wife, Theresa, have four grown children and twelve grandchildren and live in California.

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