“In your anger do not sin.” Eph. 4:26.

If you were to conduct a survey, among men or women, listing the Top 10 most frequently seen characteristics in men, sooner rather than later you’d run into Anger. More likely, it would be in the Top 3. It seems that anger has become the emotion that is more often associated with men than any other.

What’s behind anger? Many counselors say, usually there are two factors. The first is:

1. Blocked goals or unmet expectations. When we set goals and expectations for how we think life ought to go, or how we ought to be treated, we set ourselves up for Anger. I once heard a “personal goal” described as an outcome I can attain solely through my own efforts. An outcome that is dependent on my efforts AND the efforts of others is no longer a goal. It’s a preference.

Whether results-oriented or relationship-oriented, we men often establish goals in life that we simply cannot control on our own:

  • I will be promoted in 2 years.
  • I will be independently wealthy in 20 years.
  • My wife will hold me in the highest regard.
  • Every one of my kids will be above-average.
  • I will have 1000 Facebook friends in 2 months.
  • God will treat me special for being a good Christian.

Each of these examples is largely dependent on the choices and preferences of other people, not only our own, and we cannot completely control them. It probably goes without saying that suspecting we can can control God’s choices fits into a major-league level of self-delusion.

When our personal expectations don’t come true, especially if we know someone else is thwarting them, we become angry. Depending on the value we place on the expectation, we may even become enraged.

Men, it will be to our benefit, and to the benefit of those we care about, to release our unrealistic expectations for outcomes in life, and behavior from others, which we do not control anyway. A healthier focus for us is to make a personal commitment to pursue character qualities (such as the Fruit of the Spirit,  Gal. 5) that will result in us becoming more and more Christlike. If that kind of deep soul-transformation is truly happening in our lives, we can learn to release our personal demands, and minimize our requirements of others.

We, and those around us, will be grateful we did.

Watch this space for Part II.