Anger Management and Missional Living

Correctly handling anger demonstrates God’s character to an angry world.

“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” (James 1:19-20 ESV)

Anger management is a crucial skill.

There is much to be angry about in today’s world. Just look at social media posts or talk to someone about politics. It won’t take long to find angry people. It will also become clear that when anger expresses itself, it is often not a good thing.

James addressed his readers as beloved brothers and gave four commands to help them understand how to handle anger as they experienced trials (1:2). Know this is the first command, and it is to be ongoing. Three more follow: be quick to listen, be slow to speak, and be slow to become angry. This is how to manage anger.

James commanded his readers to listen before acting. Many times, we speak quickly into situations instead of stopping to listen and gather all the facts. Slowing down our verbal response is a wise practice—in fact, James’ words are reminiscent of the Old Testament wisdom literature. The book of Proverbs gives instruction on restraining our lips and words. “When words are many, transgression is not lacking” (Proverbs 10:19).

After giving these commands, James provided the reason with the word for. He said, in essence, don’t get angry because anger doesn’t produce God’s righteousness. His emphasis was on doing what God requires. Righteousness is the outward manifestation of obedience that reflects God’s standard and character. Many times, our anger fails to demonstrate this.

Remember, the Bible doesn’t declare all anger to be sin (Ephesians 4:26-27). However, in many cases, it does bring with it a temptation to sin. This was true for Cain in the Old Testament (Genesis 4:4-7) and it was also true of the missionary Jonah (4:1). James recognized this and told his readers how to manage anger to avoid sin.

Anger management is crucial for all believers, but it can be especially important for those working cross-culturally. Mission fields are ripe unto harvest, but they can also be ripe unto outburst. Missionaries are not immune. They can experience anger with government restrictions, language learning, cultural acquisition, false religions, injustice, poverty, and corruption. And they can also experience it with other missionaries. When missionaries get angry, the local population notices how they respond. Good anger management can be an effective way of demonstrating Christ’s love, patience, and forgiveness to a world prone to quick anger.

As we pray to the Lord of the harvest to send more missionaries, let’s also pray that the Lord helps those missionaries to deal well with anger and to have good relationships with locals and other missionaries.


“Father in the Heaven, please give me the ability to listen first before speaking. Let my responses to frustration display your righteousness instead of my sinfulness. Let Christ’s character be seen in me.”

Prayer requests for missionaries:

  1. Pray James 1:19-20 for the missionaries your church supports.
  2. Pray for ABWE missionaries to have good relationships with locals and with other missionaries.
  3. Pray for more laborers to go to the harvest fields.
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