Anger is a gift when used correctly. It’s a God given endowment for a purpose. Most, if not all, of us are familiar with the incorrect use of anger. Those are the times we regret and apologize for. However, when anger is used correctly, we still might feel bad, but there is no need for apology because the anger was used for the right reason, on the right person, at the right time, to the right degree. Righteous indignation does not bow to the opinions of people or fear being misunderstood or disliked for a time. It’s about principle not pandering. It’s a politically incorrect attitude to fight for right no matter how ugly things might get.
By “ugly” I mean yelling, screaming, arguing, crying, and yes…it can even get physical sometimes. Of course, I’m not advocating physical violence. Don’t misunderstand. God forbid that someone gets physically hurt, but the ugly fact is that sometimes it does happen. I know many of you might disagree and think I’m advocating violence, but I assure you I’m not. I’m just speaking honestly and candidly about something parents and leaders need to understand and practice when they are being consistently disrespected and bullied by their children. A situation behind closed doors in far too many homes.
Not everybody agrees with “who” Jesus was or is. But everyone does agree that he lived a righteous life and was the epitome of the “golden rule.” Yet, amongst all the lessons he taught us about how to love and treat people, we need to be reminded about what he taught us about righteous indignation. On the day he finally showed up at the house of God, he witnessed there that the Temple of God had been turned into a place of merchants selling their goods and taking advantage of the common folks coming and going to the house of prayer and worship. No one else had spoken up. No one else had questioned the greed and ways of these crooked business men. No one else was angry about the perversion of sacred and holy things, except Jesus. So what did he do? He got angry. Really angry. He got physical and sent a message that we all need to learn from.
Jesus proceeded to make a whip and used it to drive out the merchants as he kicked over their tables and poured out their money boxes on the floor and told them, “take these things from here; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise.” (The Gospel of John 2.13-16)
Yes, parenting, leading and life is about love, patience, kindness, forgiveness, tolerance, understanding, integrity, and the like. But, as Jesus showed us, it’s also about times when we need to get angry about what’s wrong and take up the necessary practices to make it clear to those violating us that we will not take it. People like to paint a picture of a passive Jesus, but he clearly was neither passive or a dictator, but he was a public authority figure who knew how and when to exercise his authority righteously.
As a parent and a leader, when I have problems with my children/people, the first thing I have to do is look within and make sure I’m not contributing to or causing the problem. That takes a lot of integrity and emotional maturity; To know myself, admit when I’m wrong, and apologize. But I’m not talking about that here. What I’m talking about is when you’re doing what’s right and your children are rebelling against you and trying to intimidate you with their words, size, strength, guilt trips and whatever other means of putting you down and trying to get their way.
They throw their teenage tantrums by trying to take us emotionally hostage and terrorize our hearts and minds by threatening to run away, call the police, or commit suicide. These are the times when parents must stand, fight for what’s right and bear up under the principle of “tough love.” Our self-respect and earning the respect of our children is on the line. If we give in and lose this battle we are doing a great dis-service to ourselves and our children. As time goes on and they grow older and understand more, they will resent us for not standing up to them in these hard times when they tested our resolve to love them unconditionally even though it meant “getting ugly” in those moments.
Passive parenting is not helping produce the next generation of good leaders. And authoritarian parenting is no better. What we need is “authoritative” parenting, which is the balance between being a supportive, positive, and kind parent that also sees themselves as responsible for using their authority to discipline and shape the character of their children and thereby raise happy, healthy children who become citizens that make positive contributions to their community.
In order to accomplish this, sometimes it takes parents who understand when to exercise righteous indignation.