When I graduated from seminary just over a year ago, I accepted a ministry position with a non-profit faith-based organization. My work is meaningful for me and fulfilling, but the director of the non-profit is . . . not a very nice person. He is arrogant, condescending, and rude, and I think those might be his best qualities. He talks down to our constituents. He belittles all the staff members, including me. He sends insulting emails to our board members, and yet, he still has his job, and from what I can tell, he is in no danger of being fired. The usual response by his superiors to his rudeness is “Oh, that’s just the way he is. He doesn’t mean anything by it.”
I realize that in order for me to have a better work situation that I will have to find a new position, but here is what I want to know—how can I get past this anger? I am so mad and I stay mad most of the time. I don’t want to be mad forever!
I Work for a Big Jerk
I am very sorry that your first ministry position after completing seminary has brought you face-to-face with a supervisor who fails to exhibit the characteristics one would expect to find in a leader of a faith-based organization. You have already recognized that this environment is ultimately not life giving for you, even though you find meaning and fulfillment in your work. I suspect that you not only feel anger toward your boss but also toward the board members who are failing to hold him accountable and others who are likewise excusing his bad behavior.
I affirm you for recognizing that as you move on you will need to let go of your anger. A change in your workplace environment will certainly help, since you will no longer be immersed in the situation on a daily basis, but that doesn’t mean that the memories of this sour experience will fade fast. Clinging to anger is a health hazard – physically, mentally, and spiritually. While anger itself is not a sin, anger can lead us into dangerous territory: “human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires” (James 1:20).
A quick Internet search will provide you with suggested anger management tools, many of which you may find to be helpful whenever anger bubbles up: breathing deeply, identifying triggers, exercising, journaling, etc. However, in light of your God-given call to ministry, I encourage you to view this situation through a spiritual lens. Whenever you feel a surge of anger toward your boss, pray. Ask God to help you feel compassion for him. Being compassionate doesn’t mean that you are excusing his actions; you are seeking to see him in light of God’s grace. Remember the words Jesus taught us to pray: “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Forgiving your boss for his offensive actions towards you and others will not be a one-time event. Forgiveness is a process. Gradually, as you prayerfully practice forgiveness, your anger will subside.
Blessings as you seek a healthier ministry environment.