Can Christian Leaders Be Angry Leaders?

Day 18

I wish you would bear with me in a little foolishness. Do bear with me! For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ. But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough. … Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant? 2 Corinthians 11:1-4, 29

Jealous. Indignant. Burning with anger. These are not phrases that American Christians typically associate with godly leadership in churches and ministries.

Yet these are the words the Apostle Paul uses in describing his emotions. Paul is feeling what God feels. Throughout the Scripture, the Lord is plain about His intensity of emotion. He uses words like “rage,” “fire,” “wrath,” “jealousy,” and “hate.” The Bible does not present God as polite, grinning, or only affirming.

The indignation and outrage of God is perhaps most commonly seen when it comes to defending what is precious. In this instance (2 Cor. 1), Paul manifests God’s emotion in defending the Corinthian Christians from being deceived, from being led astray. His concern that someone may fall away from the faith makes him burn with anger. He feels a holy possessiveness over the people that Jesus ransomed. His jealousy is not envy. His jealousy is to guard and keep that for which Christ gave everything.

Why does God get angry at sin? Because it nailed His Son to the cross, and because it can destroy His people. Why does God get angry at false teaching? Because it will deceive those who are the apple of His eye, and lead them into destruction. It seems that God rarely gets angry in His own defense; it is nearly always because the Father senses a threat to His children.

Can godly leaders be angry leaders? Hopefully, a leader who is seeking the Lord won’t be known as an angry person. However, it is also true that a leader who is seeking the Lord will feel and manifest the range of emotions that God experiences. Throughout history, God has been accused of being “an angry god.” It should be no surprise, then, if a godly leader is accused of being “an angry leader.” This should never be an excuse, however, for a leader to live out the all-too-common anger of the flesh.

Can godly leaders be angry leaders? Perhaps we need to flip the question on its head: If a leader never feels anger, is he or she truly seeking after God?

Almighty King, may I hate the things that You hate! As You are angry at sin, may I be just as angry. When You rage at injustice, may I also rage! As the Bridegroom is jealous for uncompromising faithfulness, for a pure and unadulterated bride, may I be just as jealous. May I not wink at that which You came to destroy. May there be no diluted emotion within me. Make me to be as merciful as You, as loving as You, as caring as You, as kind as You. And make me indignant, outraged, possessive, and unflinching in every way which You are. In Jesus’ name I ask, Amen.

Adrian P. Schoonmaker
Vice President, Christian Union Universities

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