Read Genesis 49:1-28
“Simeon and Levi are brothers—
their swords are weapons of violence.
Let me not enter their council,
let me not join their assembly,
for they have killed men in their anger
and hamstrung oxen as they pleased.
Cursed be their anger, so fierce,
and their fury, so cruel!”
Steve Jobs’ Anger at Apple
I love apple products. I bought an Apple IIC when they first came out (to this day I can say that was the best keyboard I ever set my fingers upon). I love my iPhone. I love to Face-time with my family when we’re away from each other. I even love Apple commercials, especially the one where the girl throws the hammer at the big screen with Big Brother talking. Steve Job’s penchant for perfection resulted in some amazing products and some incredible marketing. But he also had an anger problem.
In 1985 Jobs’ boss, John Sculley, who was then the CEO of Apple, decided to remove Jobs from his position as head of the Macintosh division. When Sculley gave Jobs the news, Jobs was furious. The two met and Jobs launched a verbal assault on Sculley telling him, You know nothing about computers! You’re doing a terrible job running the company! And you have disappointed me ever since coming to Apple!
Then, after Jobs’ tirade, Steve Jobs started to cry.
Shortly thereafter, he tried to put together a plot to oust Sculley from the company. On May 25 he called Sculley and offered what appeared to be an olive branch. Jobs asked Sculley to go for a walk with him in the hills above Stanford University. But to prepare for his informal meeting Jobs decided to watch a movie, and his movie of choice wasn’t a peaceful one. He wanted to watch the movie, Patton, the biographical movie about the battles fought by General Patton. Perhaps not surprisingly, in the days to come, the communication between the two men deteriorated into a shouting match. Their relationship was destroyed. Because of Jobs’ anger issues, virtually all of the leadership at Apple supported Sculley. Jobs was fired.
Steve Jobs’ outbursts of anger cost him the Apple corporation, the very company he founded.
Simeon and Levi
Simeon and Levi’s sister Dinah was raped by a young Hivite prince named Shechem. When Simeon and Levi found out, they were furious. Simeon and Levi offered what appeared to be an olive branch. They told the Hivites if all the men would be circumcised, they would give their sister Dinah to Schechem as his bride.
So the Hivites did as was requested. But while they were still sore and incapacitated from circumcision, Simeon and Levi, in their anger and fury, launched an assault on the Hivites.
Simeon and Levi were certainly justified in their anger. It could be Steve Jobs was too. But succumbing to the emotion of anger the way they did resulted in damage. The Hivite community was damaged, even devastated. The Israelite tribe was damaged and even jeopardized. After the slaughter, Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, “You have brought trouble on me by making me obnoxious…” to the surrounding peoples. And in our text, just before his death, concerning Simeon and Levi, Jacob pronounced, “Cursed be their anger, so fierce, and their fury, so cruel!”
Steve Jobs’ anger damaged numerous relationships, including the one with Sculley who previously had been a father figure to Jobs. In fact their relationship was completely destroyed. Jobs’ career was damaged. And Jobs’ own company was taken from him.
Succumbing to anger destroys. It destroys relationships and it damages the person who is angry. But no one escapes anger. We’ll all experience it. So how should we deal with it then?
Jesus and Anger
Search the scriptures and you’ll find an interesting thing about Jesus and anger. The only instances of anger displayed by Jesus were on someone else’s behalf. He was never angry concerning his own self interest. In the last blog post we explored an example of this. Jesus had just asked the Pharisees about healing a man on the Sabbath, and they refused to answer: He looked around at them in anger and deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” (Mark 3:4-5) (See previous post: Love Like Jesus–Even If It Disrupts Your Sabbath) Jesus was angry with them on behalf of the man who needed healing.
Acting out in anger on your own behalf will only do damage–damage to relationships, and to yourself. And even if you’re acting out in anger on behalf of someone else, if it’s done in the way Simeon and Levi did it, it can cause damage, destruction, and devastation.
So when you’re angry, remember three simple points:
1) Like Jesus, avoid acting out in anger on your own behalf. I’m not talking about becoming a doormat. There are certainly times when you might have to remain firm about something. But it doesn’t pay to let out your anger. The outcome will only result in damage. Damage to relationships, and damage to yourself.
2) When Jesus was angry on behalf of the man with the withered hand, He responded by performing a good deed–He healed him. When you’re angry on someone else’s behalf be careful. It’s subtle, but we can think we’re justified in our anger, and without even realizing it, we can find ourselves unsheathing our sword so to speak, and causing damage. Not physical damage like that from Simeon and Levi, but emotional and relational damage with the sword of the tongue (or the sword of the keyboard). Responding this way can produce results similar to those of Simeon and Levi’s–destruction, devastation, and perhaps even curses can result.
3) When the Israelites came to Moses with unjust criticisms and demands, including a demand for a change in leadership, Moses responded by falling on his face. We see him do this three times in one chapter. (see Numbers Chapter 16) I’ve found that falling on my face in prayer is a much more effective way to respond to someone than reacting in anger. When I react in anger there is destruction. When I respond with prayer there is often reconciliation, or increased understanding, or even great opportunity to show someone God’s love.
Finally, I’ll leave you with this…
My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. -James 1:19-20
[Image via Timmy2Wheels, Creative Commons]