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Don’t Hold & Explode

Featured on the Hong Kong Economic Journal (March 7, 2015)

The other evening, I was at a dinner event where Bill Hybels was speaking on leadership and sharing his wisdom. Bill Hybels pastors one of the largest churches in America called Willow Creek Church, is a prolific writer and a worldwide speaker. He said many of his thoughts that evening but there was one that really stood out to me. In the audience, a man raised his hand to ask the question of how he could have a greater influence on the people in his workplace but he candidly shared that he struggles with having a hot temper, which he shared likely inhibits people from wanting to be influenced by him. I expected Pastor Bill Hybels to ‘sugar coat’ his answer and reassure the man that it’s okay, that we are all imperfect and that he should just try harder to control his temper. Instead, Bill Hybels replied with this:

“Understandable; but inexcusable”

He then went on to explain himself to share that it’s understandable that we may have a temper, especially in a stressful workplace, but it is inexcusable as we are to be role models and a positive influence to others. If we have a temper at others, it makes others less receptive to our influence and leadership.

And as I was reflecting on this, it made me think of parenting. Parenting is one of the most stressful jobs ever – 24-7 job, no days off, no pay, no human resources department to complain to when ‘clients’ act up, no quitting when the going gets tough – and I’ve heard many parents share their struggles of staying calm and collected as they parent. As an educator who works with children daily, I can understand some of those frustrations.

But I’m reminded of Pastor Bill’s comment of how having a temper is ‘understandable but inexcusable’. If we want to have our children learn to manage their emotions and be responsible in the words they use with others, we first have to model our self-control and not explode in anger at our children. If we want to be responsible leaders of our household and a positive influence on our children, we must first control our tempers. Our children learn from what we do more than what we say. But easier said than done.