Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Bullies in the Home

This article is a follow up to an article published in Holiness Today last year. The previous article was about bullies in the church. This one is about bullies in the home, which happens in more of our congregational homes than we would like to acknowledge.

The author offers some practical advice I want to share here (I encourage you to read the entire article). For those of us in the ministry, and most of us who have friends and family, we will have someone we know who is 1) a bully or 2) being bullied. I like his thoughts on how we can minister in these situations

Once again, our first essential task is to comprehend the bully's annoying, and even deadly, game. Afterwards, led by the Spirit of God, we are equipped to prayerfully devise effective, Christian countermeasures. Consider these:
  1. As Augsburger advises, we must learn to "carefront." To stand up to the bully in a loving—rather than harsh and retributive—way. Being firm, but also fair and compassionate. Never retaliating with "overkill." As Holiness people, this response should come natural to us.
  2. It is imperative that we seek to protect, defend, encourage, and minister to the bully's victims. In war, despite the risk, soldiers rescue their wounded. Can we be less committed? It's no secret that fear of abandonment is overpowering to the victimized.
  3. It behooves us to cultivate special skills in recognizing and dealing with bully tactics. There are superb books, seminars, and 12-step groups focused on such things as conflict resolution, empathy training, and coping skills.
  4. We must resolve to be role models, never succumbing to the devious and destructive tactics of the bully. Make no mistake, we shall always be tempted to use our clout to superimpose our will on others in an intimidating way. Even those of us who embrace the scriptural admonition of holiness. If not careful we can come across as harsh, judgmental, and self-righteous, all of which are interpreted as hurtful put-downs to others. Authentic holy living requires us to take a different pathway.
I love the imagery of standing up to a bully without overreacting. In some ways I see movies where Amish men confront those who seek to torment them because of their beliefs. They don't strike them, don't shout, but do not back down either. I like that image here. I also like the image of rescuing our wounded. How do we help people who have a bully in their family? That is something we as congregations should pray about and develop a system/plan to deal with. The sad reality is that we will come across it. How we deal with it is where the rubber meets the road.

The last image is in the article of the dethroned sparrow. It brings a smile to my face.

Edit - As I was reading the E-edition of the Detroit News, I came across this beauty:

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