If you listen long enough, there is a group of men who are very angry right now. Anger is nothing new for men, but it does seem like anger has increased to a whole new level during COVID. Some are upset at the government, and others are angry at whatever decision their church leaders made throughout COVID. Many families and friendships are tense as people debate their positions. As a leader, you will inevitably come across some men who are angry at you or at others who are in leadership. Your response to their anger will be key to helping these men in their journey of following Jesus.
Anger is nothing new for men, but it does seem like anger has increased to a whole new level during COVID.
The Wrong Responses
When a man is angry, the route that feels the safest is to ignore them or push back. Most of us do not like conflict and feel as though we have more productive things to do than to get into a debate with someone. The temptation to push back and put the man in his place is also very real. Life is a lot easier when we can control the narrative happening around us. But if your goal as a leader is to help men grow as disciples of Jesus, then neither of these options is a helpful response.
Deep down, most men who are angry want to know they have been heard. They want to have a healthy dialogue over their differences. Simply put, they want to be shown some respect for their convictions. The longer a man feels disrespected, the more he will become agitated over whatever situation he is upset about. I believe the best way you can show a man respect is to sit down and have a conversation together.
Deep down, most men who are angry want to know they have been heard.
“A gentle answer turns away anger, but a harsh word stirs up wrath.” Proverbs 15:1
Before you meet, take time to pray for your conversation. Ask God to give you the grace to listen, the humility to be corrected (if necessary), and the clarity of mind to respond.
Ask the man to express his concerns and questions. Many times, really angry men will have a difficult time concisely expressing their thoughts. You will need to listen for some common themes and the heart of their issue. Ask them if you are hearing them right.
3. Be human.
Where you resonate with the man, be honest that you feel the same emotions he does. For example, when men have spoken to me about being upset over some decisions we took as church leadership during COVID, I have often communicated that I share some of the same emotions and concerns as they do.
4. Be biblical.
You need to have an answer for why you (or others in leadership) have handled things the way you have. You may not both agree with each other, but you must express your desire to honor God with your decisions, and this is why you came to the path you took. Again, when I have mentored men over the past number of months, I have shared that I have the same emotions as them, but then I also come back to a conviction of what the Scriptures teach. It’s an opportunity to show men how our actions need to come under the leadership of Jesus (even if our emotions are trying to tell us a different story). If the man has a point that you have not seen or thought of, be humble enough to be corrected by God through the Scriptures.
5. Pray together.
Be honest enough to acknowledge that you need God to help you lead and that you may not always get it right. Invite the man to join you in prayer for wisdom and strength to honor Jesus in all of your decisions.
Under most circumstances, the steps above will be an effective way to mentor men who are upset with your (or someone else’s) leadership. However, there are some men where your best answers will not be good enough. They will continue in their anger and will keep looking to stir things up. In these cases, you may need to reach a point where you warn this man about causing division in the body of Christ (Romans 16:17).
This is no light responsibility and should probably be done with the support and even leadership of the elders/spiritual leaders in your church.
An Important Moment
We are living in an important moment in the spiritual formation of men who are angry over what is happening in the world around us. Sometimes the anger is directed towards you even if it is not about you. Either way, focus on responding in a way that will help the man grow as a disciple of Jesus. This is the mission God has called you to.