Father as Emotional Leader
Everyone gets angry. Yes, not all anger is sin but that’s not what I’m talking about. Men, women, old, and young all have been guilty of sinful anger. It’s a shared experience the cuts across every culture, time, and life stage. That being said, sinful anger is an especially male problem. This is, in part, due to the fact males have more testosterone than women. Higher levels of “T” is associated with higher levels of aggression. Also, testosterone levels spike in men when they are faced with some sort of challenge. This is why men tend to react to difficult situations with aggression and that aggression can often take the form of sinful anger.
We don’t need neuroscience to know this. It should be common sense. But we live in stupid times.
Nonetheless, we see Scripture knows that sinful anger and wrath is a male problem.
In the sex-specific commands of 1 Timothy 2, Paul says, “…I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension.” Men are more aggressive on whole. Therefore, it’s not surprising that Paul commands men to put aside wrath and dissension. We also see something like this in the Ephesian household codes. Paul says, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (6:4). Sin gives way to sin and sinful anger gives way to sinful anger (Rom 6:19). Angry fathers will result in angry children, although sometimes that angry child simmers under an outwardly repressed shell.
Note that in Eph 6:4 “provoking your children to anger” is contrasted with “bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” That is purposeful. James 1:20 teaches us “for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.” An angry man cannot bring up children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. It is as Christ said, “A pupil is not above his teacher; but everyone, after he has been fully trained, will be like his teacher.” Fathers reproduce themselves in their children.
The angry father’s children may become godly adult Christians but it will be despite his angry way. That is why it’s so important that a father embodies Proverbs 16:32:
“He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty,
And he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city.”
A father who rules his own spirit well will give his children the gift of emotional stability. He will not be easily pulled into participating in their emotional outbursts. Quite the opposite, he will pull them into his calm and controlled emotional state. When his son raises his voice or strikes a disrespectful tone, he will not match and exceed it will a louder voice and even more intense tone. Doing so would make his angry son the emotional leader in that interaction. Fathers must be the emotional leader. It is by his cool head in hot disputes he teaches his children to discipline and control their emotions.