Book Review – Anger & Stress Management God’s Way by Wayne A. Mack
I’m always a bit nervous when I see a book title with the phrase “God’s Way” in it — and there have been many of these over the years! Perhaps it’s just me, but when authors pull the “God’s Way” card, I feel as if they are cutting off any form of dialogue and insisting that they have the final infallible say on the matter. I’m not entirely sure if they are claiming that they have God’s endorsement on their words (I don’t believe this is the case), or if by “god’s way” they mean something else that is just simply beyond my understanding. Those of you who know me know that I absolutely believe in objective truth and that there is one true meaning to scripture, but I am also an ardent believer in dialogue and in the process of working out the meaning of scripture along side a multitude of counsel. What if I happen to disagree with the author’s particular interpretation of a passage? Does that mean that I am somehow out of the bounds of orthodoxy? Needless to say this has become a pet peeve of mine because I simply don’t know how to respond or how to disagree without feeling as if somewhere, someone is going to jump out of the shadows and tell me what a horrible Christian I am. This is where Christian charity comes in and we have to assume the best about the authors (they are not claiming infallibility) while at the same time being bold when we disagree. We must affirm that disagreeing with an author is not the same as disagreeing with God himself! All of this aside, the one thing that I always look for in any book is whether or not it clearly and accurately prescribes the gospel as the one and only effective solution to the problem at hand. It is here that Wayne Mack’s latest book Anger & Stress Management God’s Way really shines. If nothing else can be said about this book, it is that Mack relies heavily upon the gospel to transform our anger and not upon our own efforts — and yet so much more can be said because this truly is a great book!
In Anger & Stress Management God’s Way , Wayne Mack begins by affirming that sometimes it is okay to be angry. There is such a thing as being good and angry. However, this is not as common as we might assume and more often than not our anger rises out of sin that is deep within us. In order to help discern the difference, Mack goes on to give five things that we can look for to help us know if we are sinning in our anger. These five traits can be summarized as a lack of forgiveness (holding onto wrongs, fretting, retaliation, etc), being dishonest about our anger, and transferring our anger to another person. Mack then moves on to helping us learn to deal with anger in such a way that we do not sin in our anger. Mack identifies two ways in which scripture teaches us to not sin in our anger. The first is to deal with our anger on an ongoing basis. The second way is to realize that despite the fact that we might be angry, we are always in control of how we respond. This can be difficult when our anger is stirred by another person, but Mack goes on to give two ways to handle offenses. The first is to overlook the offense and the second is to approach them privately to begin a Matthew 18 resolution. Both of these sections are full of good practical ways to help us deal with on offense in a righteous manner. In all of this, Mack is careful to not present his counsel in such a way that it leads to moralism. I really appreciate this about the book because this is precisely what differentiates Anger & Stress Management God’s Way as a Christian book and not simply another self-help book. Wayne Mack is a master at revealing how these issues are a reflection of our heart and that the only lasting solution is a new heart. At the same time, he doesn’t allow this approach to produce a hands-off approach in which the angry person simply lets go exerting no effort while waiting for God to simply remove the anger. To end the discussion on anger, Mack really begins to dig deep into the heart as he offers six questions that help us to turn our anger from a destructive to a constructive force. Far from being a prescription, these six questions lead the reader into the deep recesses of the heart in order to expose those areas which need to be sanctified. The focus isn’t on the behavior but on knowing and identifying issues of the heart.
Next Mack turns to the second (related) topic in the book –stress. Here he turns the mirror back to our hearts and shows us that stress comes from a lack of belief when we encounter the various things that trigger our stress. He shows the natural and spiritual consequences of stress, and offers two solutions to manage our stress. The first is to intentionally choose to trust in God’s sovereignty, and the second is to intentionally choose to give thanks to God in every circumstance. Again, like the previous section on anger, Mack leaves no room for the rugged individual who is going to overcome his stress apart from the transforming work of the Spirit within us.
Overall I have to admit that I was very impressed with Anger & Stress Management God’s Way , and Wayne Mack’s determined focus on the gospel as the means to transform the heart. This is why in the few areas where I may differ with Mack I do not see a need to make an issue of it. If we turn to the Christ to transform us through the gospel of his word we cannot go wrong. While brothers may disagree from time to time on minutia, we should not disagree on the transformative power of rebirth and sanctification by the means of hearing and believing the promises of God. This is what Anger & Stress Management God’s Way focuses on and in this sense it truly is God’s way. Not that the author claims to have infallible insight into the interpretation of scripture, but that God’s way is the way of his grace and not the way of merit through a disciplined moralism.
Anger & Stress Management God’s Way is a wonderful resource for both for private and small group study. Mack pauses the discussion often throughout the book to provide application questions that point us back to the heart as the source of sin and the gospel’s sanctifying work in cleaning us up. These questions appear at the end of each chapter as well as at the end of smaller divisions within the chapters. This approach is a wonderful aid in helping us keep our focus where it needs to be and guiding the discussion along while eliminating the noise of unbiblical solutions that may creep into our minds as we move through the pages of the book. I recommend this book to all parents who want to understand where their children’s anger is coming from and how to deal with it appropriately.
Where to Purchase
About the Author
Wayne Mack lives in Pretoria, South Africa, where he serves as a pastor-elder with his son-in-law and teaches biblical counseling at Strengthening Ministries Training Institute to pastors and aspiring pastors in the region. He also spends about six weeks in the USA teaching at various churches. He and his wife, Carol, have four adult children and numerous grandchildren.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from P&R Publishing in exchange for an online review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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