What kind of cannon are you?
Anger is a valid emotion. Anger can be a tremendous motivator. It can also be tragically destructive.
Anger is like a cannon. When locked down, under control and focused, it can prove to be highly effective. On the other hand, a loose and out of control cannon is dangerous to behold.
Does anger produce the desired outcomes? Why are we so angry? Are we justified in our anger?
Let’s be honest, as much as we wish it worked, anger is a pretty ineffective tool. No doubt, when properly applied, it is a viable option. But more often than not, it proves to be volatile. For every example of so called “righteous” anger there are countless examples of where anger simply made matters worse. As much as we would like to say we can handle it, most of us operate a loose cannon when it comes to anger.
So, why are we so angry? Might I suggest that we want something and when we don’t get it we take matters into our own hands. Sometimes that action results in the use of anger.
James, the son of Joseph, a construction worker who lived many years ago in Nazareth, in Galilee, once asked, “What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you? You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it.
Sound familiar? This scene plays out over and over again through all kinds of interpersonal relationships. Anger has a way of working its magic among family, coworkers and even the closest of friends.
So, how’s that working for you. Yeah, I thought so. About as good as a loose cannon on a battleship. There is a battle alright and the collateral damage is way too high. Friendly fire is killing us.
We have come about our propensity for infighting and anger quite naturally. Early on in the history of mankind there were two brothers. Their names were Cain and Abel. As the story goes, the little brother, Abel, without any obvious intention, out showed his older sibling. This made Cain firing mad! He was asked, “Why are you so angry? You look so dejected.” He was warned, “Watch out. Sin is crouching at the door and eager to control you. Subdue it. Get control of it or it will most certainly master you.”
Unfortunately, the restraints were loosened and the cannon began to fire. Out of control and smoking mad, the desires that warred within him boiled over. He didn’t get what he wanted so Cain killed his brother in a wild-eyed fit of rage.
If only Cain had heard the words of the carpenter’s son. Might the outcome have been different? “You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires,” James notes. Oh, that these words could be heeded when our blood starts to boil, our fuses are lit, our jaws tighten and our eyes begin to squint. Like Cain we are forewarned, “Watch out. Sin is crouching at the door and eager to control you. Subdue it. Take control of it or it will most certainly master you.”
Let’s face it. It might feel good, it might motivate some in the short term but rarely, does man’s anger produce the outcome God desires.
Are we called to be passive willows blown by the wind as evil has its way with us? I think not. As believers in Jesus, our spiritual leader was also the son of a carpenter. He worked in the same shop as James. His trade required physical strength but his calling required even stronger self-control. He called out injustice, he rightly turned over a few tables in front of guards who didn’t dare challenge him but he also recognized, as one strong-willed former Pharisee once wrote, “Our struggle is not with flesh-and-blood, but with evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, mighty powers in this dark world, and evil spirits in the heavenly places.”
The key to controlling the cannon is focusing its power in the right direction. If we aren’t careful we drop the grenade in our own bunker and end up doing the enemies work for him.
As someone, who is not short on passion, drive or gumption, this challenge to properly channel and control anger is not an occasional thing. It is a minute by minute affair. I am not the man I once was and I am still not the man I hope to someday be, but with the infilling of the Lord’s Spirit and the tools and techniques to manage my emotions, I will come to be the man God has called me to be.
If you struggle with anger, let me encourage you to admit it. Don’t deny that you have a tendency to be hot headed, have a temper and are prone to speak before you think.
Loose cannons can be tamed and they have an important place in the advancement of good. We owe a lot to the men and women who have not set idle as the world crumbled around them. Those who have proven to be most effective have learned to focus their passion, drive and energy as they have gone on to change the world.
What kind of cannon are you? Are you locked down and focused or loose and out of control? Today might be a great day to decide which cannon you want to be.
I have learned a few tips for taming the tiger over the years. If you are interested, reach out to me and I will be happy to share with you what I have discovered.
(Inspired by Genesis 4:2-8, James 1:19-20 and 4:1-2, Ephesians 4:26 and 6:12, Romans 7:15-25)