Proverbs 12:15 A fool is quick-tempered, but a wise person stays calm when insulted.
As a youth pastor, I have had several run-ins with upset parents for a variety of reasons, some were due to my own boneheaded decisions while others were mostly misunderstandings. But one encounter stands out from the rest.
One afternoon, I had a very angry dad call the church to inform them he was on his way to talk to “whomever was in charge” of the youth ministry, which happened to be me. Most of the time, when a parent is upset, I generally already have a pretty good idea of what’s going on, but not this time. This time, I was completely in the dark.
I’ll spare you the details as to why he was in my office as that’s not relevant to my point. Let’s just say he was really upset about a decision my team made that they had failed to inform me about. Needless to say, I was caught off guard and had my own corrective moment when he left my office.
During the course of our conversation that would better be described as a frustrated monologue, he made this statement: “Cody, you’re really good on stage but you’re a lousy pastor off the stage.”
Boy did those words sting. I felt every bit of it deep in the fiber of my bones. It hurt.
Everything in my being wanted to sling some words back about his parenting or his kids or anything I could think of in the moment. Instead, by the sheer grace of God, I did something completely out of step with my emotions: I actually found myself agreeing with him out loud. I told him, “You know what, I’m not that great off stage. I really need to get better as a pastor. It’s not my first nature to develop strong relationships. I’m really going to work on this. Thank you for pointing this out.” Now before you think I’m some sort of self-control ninja, I’m still shocked by the way I responded in that moment. It was undoubtedly the power of the Holy Spirit at work.
Do you know what happened next? He calmed down and we had a very productive conversation. And to add a cherry on top, we actually have a great relationship to this day. Plus, I became a better pastor because I was able to navigate past the insult.
When we feel insulted, it’s natural to want to bite back at people. It’s also natural to want to match anger for anger. But this Proverb let’s us know that a wise person doesn’t fight fire with fire. And can I let you in on a little secret? The person who is calm is also in control. I think that’s really the point here. Wise people stay in control of themselves and own the conflict because they are able to keep their composure even when they would be justified in lashing out.
Are you the type of person who flies off the handle in anger? Do you have a sharp tongue that you let loose when you feel attacked or insulted? If so, ask God to help you stay calm and stay in control when you are insulted.
Father, I need your help in an area. I want to be a wise person who stays calm when insulted. Give me grace to control my tongue and my anger. Holy Spirit, I’m so grateful that self-control of a fruit of your presence. I can’t do this on my own but by your power I can do this. I submit my emotions and words to you. In Jesus’ name, amen!