David Sanford Shares Confessions of an Angry Pastor

Augustine’s Confessions was the very first Western autobiography. Countless others have followed. The newest is by Brent C. Hofer. Brent, what’s it about?  As pastors, it’s not enough for us to manage anger if we’re an angry man. Recovery is possible. I’m living proof. Confessions of an Angry Man  is my redemptive story.

Questions for an angry man: You were a pastor for three decades. What happened? Did growing anger eventually catch you by surprise?

Just the opposite. I have been angry almost my whole life. I’m talking about the type of anger that resembles a landmine. You don’t always see it, but it is there, buried in the personality, and when something triggers it, people get seriously hurt.

Over the years, living with me as an angry man was like living through one tornado after another. Whether frustrated with life circumstances, or irritated and angry with my family’s behaviors, I would explode in rage. Afterward, I would calm down, apologize, and move on as if nothing had happened.

This cycle of explosion, apology, and false peace occurred for almost twelve years of marriage. I knew something was terribly wrong. I pleaded with God to change my life—to transform me into a good husband and father. Something had to change.

Actually, a lot had to change.

I prayed for God to change my life, and he did, but not the way I imagined. Following God’s leading, Sherry, Ellie, and Nikki left me and moved two thousand miles away.

Were you shocked?

Before leaving, Sherry would try to confront me on the seriousness of my harshness with and rage toward Ellie and Nikki. Instead of admitting I was wrong, I always became defensive. I would shift the blame onto Sherry and deny the impact I was having on my daughters. I couldn’t admit that I was an angry man and how terrible I was behaving. It was too painful.

After Sherry and the girls left, I was utterly sick of myself. I thought my life was over.

Did you consider suicide?

Devastated by tears, I rushed from work. On the way home, I left the freeway via an 80-foot tall exit ramp. Sick of life, I spun the steering wheel to launch off the ramp into the air. As the car sped toward the guard rail I came to my senses and jerked the wheel back. The pain of realizing how horrible I am fortunately did not end in suicide, but rather drove me to find a better way to live with others.

What was that better way?

Finally, I was ready to take responsibility and do whatever needed to be done to change my thinking and behaviors.

To do that, I joined a recovery program.