A piece of your mind. I think the phrase, if you didn’t already have any connotations about what it actually means, would paint a verbal picture of someone offering another person some of their own insights and knowledge. Instead, we all know what it really means is that we were telling someone our extreme displeasure with something they have done incorrectly or something that they have neglected to do. I would be willing to bet that this phrase has never in the history of man described a calm, collected meeting of two people’s minds to discuss an issue. More often than anything else, it depicts an image of one person shouting/screaming/yelling/finger-wagging in the face of another person who is the recipient of this very unpleasant “gift.” Giving a piece of our mind has very little to do with peace. It has far more to do with our anger.
Anger is a funny thing. It can be on you in a split second. Somebody cuts you off in traffic. An argument over finances with your spouse. Rude customer service in a store. Being in close proximity to someone else who is angry – whether you are the focus of their ire or you are commiserating with an angry friend. It’s one of our emotions that can most easily go to full tilt with little or no warning. And then we are ready to give pieces of our mind to everyone.
We learn from an early age that our anger can be of service to us… that it can be fuel to get us through a tough situation. The problem is that while it can be a fuel that burns very hot… it is also a fuel that burns out quickly and leaves behind some toxic residue.
Here’s the thing… You are going to get angry. It is inevitable. It is unavoidable. Even if you isolated yourself in solitary confinement until the end of time… you will even, at times, get angry at yourself. It’s what we do with our anger that is so very important. It’s whether we control it or it controls us. Where do you think you reside most often? In control? Or out of control?
Galatians 5:22-23 says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” I think the really interesting thing is that in none of those – not one – is it possible to exhibit side by side with anger. And yet, over the years, I have known some really hateful, bitter, short tempered, vengeful, divisive, mean-spirited, abrasive, hot-headed Christians. That’s a shame. That’s embarrassing that there are people who claim Christ but put on the exact opposite qualities that defined Him. And I would be willing to bet that somewhere at their core exists issues with unresolved anger.
So what’s most important when we feel anger rising up? Giving a piece of our mind? Or finding the peace of our mind? Because the answer to that question will have a huge impact on our credibility and quality relationships with others.
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Jason Rehmel is the Lead Pastor at Eastside Christian Church on the east side of Cincinnati. If you are someone who has had a terrible experience(s) at a church or churches – stop by some weekend and give it one more shot with Eastside. Whether you have felt judged, or dismissed, or unwanted – wherever it has been – Eastside is different.