ADULT TEMPER TANTRUM (Sep 1983)
Down in my back, prone in a recliner chair, with typewriter on a board across my lap, and deadline staring me in the face. Seems like an ideal time to write an article on frustrations.
Somewhere I read, “Frustration is a form of adult temper tantrum. It is a determination to have our own way. It is not caused by our circumstances but by our refusal to accept and to adapt to those circumstances.” At the moment I think that is a lot of pure bologna. But at the moment I am very frustrated, and it’s hard to think straight during a temper tantrum. I must get control if this article is to be genuinely helpful to anyone.
Paul said he had learned, in whatsoever state he was, to be content (Phil. 4:11-13). He said, “I can do all things through Christ…” This was not mystical or magic strength. He learned, by heeding the word of the Lord. He prayed three times for the removal of some “thorn,” but the Lord said, “My grace is sufficient for thee for my strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:7-10). Our circumstances need not be just what we desire, in order for God’s purposes to be properly served. We must learn that, as did Paul.
In most cases the causes of frustration are homemade. (I had no business mixing concrete and rolling big rocks.) We may procrastinate, make too little preparation for our job; or, being self-centered, expect all to go our way wholly inconsiderate of others. We may “blow off” at another, when we are really peeved at ourselves.
However, except for problem identification and correction, we should not waste much time assigning blame. Spend your time at work with present circumstances. “Casting all your care upon Him” and “Be not anxious for the morrow” (1 Pet. 5:7, Matt. 6:34) are not stop work slogans.
We must use what we have, believing that God will help those who help themselves. Our weakness, working for Him, becomes strength. Let the “trying of your faith work patience” (Jas. 1:3). Frustration uses up the energy you need to fit the broken pieces of disaster into a new, beautiful mosaic.
ATTUTUDES ALSO TEACH (March 1983)
“Be not many of you teachers, my brethren, knowing that we shall receive heavier judgment” (Jas. 3:1).
Surely we know James is not discouraging teaching, but seeks to impress us with the serious responsibilities of teaching. A careless remark, misuse of scripture or the like, uttered in private conversation, may have a devastating result when repeated, multiplied, and applied in a way you may never have dreamed. How much more when the teaching is done from the pulpit, or written, to be embalmed for generations unborn.
Yes, we can take ourselves too seriously — imagine we have influence totally unreal; but better this than irresponsible scattering of tares.
Yet, teaching must be done; and as none of us are infallible but are subject to err in teaching, a second safeguard must be employed. We must develop an attitude toward our work that promotes humility rather than “editorial arrogance”; that permits speaking or writing with conviction without feeling that all who differ with us are Satanic ogres, bent on corrupting the brotherhood. If our motives are right we can teach truth and correct error without leaving the impression we think we are savior of the church.
If we truly love souls, and our purposes to lead people out of darkness into light, all the more reason to cultivate their confidence and impress them with our fairness and good will. We defeat these noble purposes when we pounce upon every conceived missed word or wrong judgment as grist for our mill. A teacher assists hearers and readers to know and understand more perfectly, and encourages them to live a better life. Reproof and rebukes are made with a heavy heart, not as haughty ego trips.
So, there are two requirements of the godly teacher. The content of his teaching must be pure a right; but he must also do his job in the right way, with the right spirit.
Our text seems pointed more toward the latter. Bitter envy and strife must give way to wisdom from above — that is pure, peaceable, gentle, etc. (Jas. 3:17-f).
Note: Robert Turner (Nov 3, 1916–Oct 12, 2007) was a well known preacher, teacher and writer. Our own Barbara Semmelmann is his daughter.