Advice for the Grouchy Father

A recent assignment for school required me to seek advice for the “Grouchy Father” from Proverbs. It was an assignment incredibly applicable to my life. There are times when I come home from work in a bad mood and then (after adding the stress of bills and life in general to the mix) take it out on my family by being in an angry or sullen mood. The Book of Proverbs speaks directly to my situation.

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 (NASB).

Steveson writes that the word “mighty” in this verse is referring to one who distinguishes himself as a hero in battle (p. 226). The implications are clear. The father who is able to conquer his own anger and rules his own emotions is even better than those military heroes who win battles and capture cities with their might. What father doesn’t want to be a hero in his own household? As fathers, if we are able to control our emotions and respond gently to our wives and children, we will be heroes in our own house!

Proverbs 15:1 – A gentle answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger (NASB).

In the context of a family, the implications of this verse seem obvious. In the household, parents are required to respond to all sorts of issues. Fathers will have to discipline their children and respond to chaotic issues in their house. Steveson writes, “The idea is that conciliatory speech can calm an angry person” (p. 201). In the house, fathers can be a calming influence or they can make a chaotic situation worse. If we respond to our family in a gentle manner, we’ll promote calmness and peace in the house and become a rock in the middle of the storm.

Proverbs 30:33 – For the churning of milk produces butter, And pressing the nose brings forth blood; So the churning of anger produces strife (NASB).

The imagery in this verse works well. Just as the churning of milk produces butter (Steveson suggests they curdled milk is a better translation on p. 433) and the squeezing of the nose produces blood, the churching of anger produces strife. It is that image that has stuck with me … “the churning of anger.” Churning milk is a deliberate action. The churner works the plunger until the fat separates from the cream. The father who creates strife because of his anger is one who has deliberately acted in anger and cultivated strife. It is a pattern of anger for him. It really speaks to the condition of his heart. As fathers, however, if we continue to cultivate such anger we will produce strife – it is only a matter of time.

I think we need to be  deliberate in cultivating a calm and gentle personality if we hope to grow more Christ-like in our home life.

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