Dealing with Anger

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Smashing pumpkins, that's a great way to deal with anger.  I've even been known to decimate hundreds of aliens with the quick-fire of my computer mouse.  Everyone has ways of dealing with anger and letting off a little steam.  By the way, I don't go around smashing pumpkins but it does sound fun!

This past Sunday, I let my anger get the better of me.  I didn't want to kill the worship leader.  I didn't want to blow up at another sound tech.  I WANTED TO SHOOT MYSELF!

It all started with using groups on the mixer, something I always do, and later messing up a solo singer's volume because I forgot I had his group volume down.  Most people didn't notice the problem.  However, I was so busy berating myself that when it came time to record the sermon, I monkeyed with the CD player channel after I'd started recording the sermon and the recording stopped.  I missed about a minute of the sermon before I saw what I did.

People typically don't ask for a sermon copy…but the day I mess it up, someone asks me.  Yep, I was extremely angry at myself.

I am my worst critic.  I can have a person tell me the service sounded great but if I know I screwed up, I'm mad at myself.

This past Sunday, I was given a whole new outlook.

After the service, I was packing up the xlr cables when a church elder came up to me and said "thank you."  Then, he said something that gave me pause to think.  "Not everyone has the skill to do the technical work that you do."  That's something I often fail to recognize.  God has given me technical skills and a good ear.  Therefore, when I'm upset that I've screwed something up, like a vocal volume, I'm mad at myself because I know better.  God has given me the skill to work behind the mixer and yet I've messed up.

Dealing with anger takes me back to a bit of golf advice I received years ago.  "When you play a bad hole of golf, walk to the next tee and know that you are starting over."  When I messed up with the vocal volume, I didn't leave my mistake behind me.  I kept holding onto it and it affected other parts of my game.  In retrospect, I had done something different on the mixer that I usually don't do, as it relates to groups, and therefore, I didn't have the mixer set up like I usually do. 

If you mess up, don't let your anger or frustration get the better of you.  After the service, look back at what happened, why it might have happened, and how you can prevent it in the future.  When you are juggling, it's not the time to watch the ball that you dropped, you have to keep focusing on the ones still in play or they will all fall down.

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  1. Anonymous says


    I relate. I remember one time turning around and bashing my head into a concrete block gym wall because I miscued a CD track. Thankfully, you’re not physically harming yourself like I did then.

    While I definitely agree that one needs to leave the mistake behind, especially in the live-audio-moment-by-moment-concentration mode, I don’t think we should leave it there indefinitely.

    Speaking for myself, I usually find that anger is the outflow of pride, typically driven by thoughts related to, “Hey, I’m better than that mistake just made me look.”

    When I find that I got angry with myself or others, I try to ask myself questions like these after the fact:

    Who was I trying to impress?
    Whose negative response did I want to avoid most?
    Why was that so important to me?
    Why do I think I should live mistake-free?

    Anyway, I would be amiss to assume you or your readers face exactly the same issues as me, but I also know that sometimes I’m helped when I see how others have grown.

    dave wilcox

  2. Anonymous says

    Dude. I’ve so been there! It sounds like you’ve adopted a great perspective on things though. I think more technical/media people need to wake-up to their skills being a gift from God like you have.

    Anthony Coppedge ( asked a great question the other day that this post reminded me of. He asked something like: “If your Pastor prepared his sermon in the same way you prepare for media, how good would his sermon be?”

    Thanks for sharing!

    Brian Ayers

  3. Anonymous says

    One of the first things that I make sure newcomers on my crew know is that they will screw up. It might sound pessimistic, but it’s true. And then when they do, the situation has already been diffused. They know that they’re not the only one who makes mistakes, and then they can move on easier.

    Whenever there is a big gaff, the next thing you’ll hear on the intercom is “Don’t worry about it now…. what’s up next?”

  4. mike says

    The funny thing is I don’t get angry, but it still affects me.  The atrist demons come in and say, "see, you’re not good enough, why are you even here?" and before I know it I’m playing timidly.  Recognizing that those voices are lies is have the battle! 

    I also think it’s important to have two modes – practice and performance.  In practice mode I’m critical of myself, if I made a mistake I stop and figure out why.  In performance mode I’m less critical and just let things flow.  If I make a mistake I don’t analize it… the mistake will show up when I practice and I’ll fix it then.  You have to be critical of yourself to get better, but you also have to know when to let go of that for the sake of a performance.


  5. Anonymous says

    Not long after I took over running the A/V systems at my church I had a bad Sunday smiler to what you described. After the service I went up to the Pastor and the Music Director to apologize for what I felt was a poor performance on my part. Neither of them had noticed the mistakes I was betting my self up over. While we were standing there someone from the congregation came up and commented on how good everything sounded. The Pastor started laughing and told me there’s only been one perfect person on this earth and that was Jesus but if you need forgiveness the church is the right place to be.

  6. Anonymous says

    Thank you for an excellent analysis of anger at the booth or “behind the stage rage” and the wise advise on how to minimize collateral damage. Anger reveals much about us, both good and bad. Anger directed at self is especially informative for personal reflection.

    When I screwed up at the control, in addition to having failed at something I am supposed to be competent at (failure #1.1), if what I do is in anyway important & it usually is, it now adversely impacts those who rely on my competent service (failure #1.2), and if I serve on a team, my failure now reflects poorly on the team (failure 1.3).

    If my normal self-assessment is one of being not very bright, or very good, or particularly gifted, then when I slip up, I am not surprised and I don’t get upset. Screwup would have been expected and normative, what’s to get upset over? If IRS took 3 month to refund you the money, you sit tight; if Home Depot or Sear did that, you pick up the phone & yell. The difference is expectation.

    It’s the same reason why I become angry over my sin. How could I have done that, again, and for the millionth time! I should know better! I an better than that! But am I? Then finally I had to come to grip with the predictable and demonstratable reality that I am hopelessly sinful even as a born again believer striving hard after holiness/perfection. Except for the sustaining grace of God, Christ in me, and the enabling power from the Holy Spirit, I might as well have been an unbeliever trapped in his depravity with no hope of escape.

    If I see myself as a worthless servant with very little talent, I would approach the control very differently every time I serve, and quietly cry out to God for help. But I don’t. I think I secretly see myself as a very gifted member of the body playing a significant role in the affairs of God’s kingdom. So then disproportional anger at myself is the inevitable outcome of small missteps that most people don’t even notice.

    God is characterized as being angry quite a bit in the bible and we are not given the impression that He needs to figure out a way to deal with it. We are made in His image, so our capacity for anger is merely a reflection of divine glory. The question is whether our anger is holy or sinful. Anger is like a fire alarm that has been trigger. It tells us something is wrong. But what is it?

  7. Anonymous says

    Usually when I mess up behind the mixer, it’s because I’ve let my guard down. For example, I hastily plugged in three mic cables for a last minute stage setup. Because I concentrated on getting them plugged in and the microphones set up, I ignored my cardinal rule of plugging them in order in which they appear on the stage. So when the third person talked into the third mic and I had the third mic channel up, nothing came through the speakers. I had to turn up the 2nd mic channel for the 3rd microphone.

    The other time I see mistakes happen is when I tell myself “I know what I’m doing” and I make a stupid mistake like forgetting to turn a group fader up.