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‘A hot-tempered person stirs up conflict, but one slow to anger calms strife’ (Proverbs 15:18)

The world seems to be becoming an angrier place. Or at least the anger is more evident, especially on social media where it’s easy to react. More than once I’ve regretted posting something on Facebook in a burst of hot self-righteousness! Whether it’s online, in traffic or in person, a quick, hot-tempered reaction can wreak all sorts of havoc in the lives of others and come back to bite us.  

It’s challenging to stay calm when temperatures are rising, but if we can manage our emotions in an emotionally charged situation, we can be a force for good, saving tears, relationships and even lives. That’s not to say there’s not a time to respond, even in anger, the key is to be slow to anger and look at the alternatives first.  

So how can we do that? 3 simple things that I find helpful (at least in theory, when I remember to do them) when temperatures start to rise are:  

  1. Take a breath. Literally. Just pausing a moment can give our brains time to catch up with our heads and give us time to say a prayer before we respond.
  2. Check your ego at the door. So often we react because we’ve been offended. If anyone had a right to be offended it was Jesus, but rather than reacting, he carried our offenses to the cross. We may well have reason to be offended, but we can leave the offense for God to deal with.
  3. Try not to take it personally. Very often, when people are quick to anger it’s not actually about us. Of course, it is personal if we’re the target of their anger but as someone once said to me, ‘The issue is never the issue.’ Anger can be a response to fear, helplessness and buried pain.  

When you’re confronted by a hot-tempered person, may the peace of God dwell in you!