How should Christians respond to bullying? Bullies can be found in schools, at work and even in Church. That was a question I was forced to ask myself after speaking to an 11- year-old child. The majority of my listening audience is made up of adults, but there are children who also are faithful listeners and genuinely enjoy the radio program as well. One of these children is Trinitee, a lively, charming 11-year old who loves gospel music and Jesus. She refers to me as “AUNTY META” which she always writes in all caps, just so I’d know how much she loves me. During one of our online chats about school, she confided that she was being bullied and this wasn’t the first time. But it was MY first time not being totally sure what to say. I was used to counseling adults.
What Do You Say to a Child That is Bullied?
Should I tell her pray? Turn the other cheek? Maybe, go tell Mommy or the teacher? She said “A boy in my classroom said I was ugly. I told him, I was made in God’s image so I’m beautiful”. Bravo to her! She did the right thing. She stood up to the bully with the God’s Word.
What Does the Bible Say About Bullying?
Although the word “bully” or “bullying” does not appear in the Bible, the presence of this behavior is evident. The Crucifixion is proof of that.
But what WOULD Jesus do about bullying and how should we go about protecting children in schools that no longer have prayer? And what if you’re an adult who is bullied at work or even at church? What about cyberbullying? How should Christians respond?
TIP: During the time of the Crucifixion, Jesus did respond to being tormented. He asked his Father to forgive those who treated him cruelly. (Luke 23:34). By showing mercy to others we too can receive mercy for our transgressions.
…because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment – James 2:13 (NIV)
TIP: Seek God’s wisdom on how to respond to your specific situation. Not all acts of aggression are the same. You certainly will never need a hammer to stop an ant.
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you – Psalm 32:8 (NIV)
TIP: Avoid seeking revenge upon your adversaries. This can sometimes be difficult. Human nature says that we should make people the way they’ve made us feel. It is true that hurt people hurt others. The Bible however, says we should treat others the way we desire to be treated, but when others are unkind this can prove difficult or even impossible. But by taking matters into our own hands, we don’t leave room for God to act on our behalf.
Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord – Romans 12:19 (NIV)
Tye Tribbett, Pastor of the LiVe Church in Orlando, FL is a gospel singer, songwriter, keyboardist and choir director who has won two GRAMMY® Awards, a Soul Train Award, two Dove Awards and three Stellar Awards and….was bullied as a child.
CFU: How would you advise children of the Kingdom to respond to a bully especially since telling on a bully sometimes makes matters worse?
TT: I think it’s really important that parents are made aware first, sometimes even telling friends can start a small “clique war”! So have an a parent or guardian made aware of the situation is of most importance first.
CFU: How can parents help protect their children from bullies?
TT: I think regardless of the fearful expectation of a more aggressive retaliation from the bully, I think parents should definitely make the teachers aware of what’s going on, not to “punish the bully” per say but to keep watch over the child, especially at the times when, as it was told to you, the “bully strikes”. And then once the teacher sees for themselves, the correction is fair and unbiased.
CFU: What should you do if “your” child is the bully?
TT: Understanding should be the first initiative in dealing with your child being a bully. Find out the root of it, what sparked it and work continues to encourage it. After that aggressive consequences should be instituted to ensure the alignment and discipline of the child’s behavior. I think with these two things in place the child feels loved yet understands that they may need to change some things.