How to Recognize a Church Bully or How to Stop being One
It is National Bullying Prevention Month. This issue is near and dear to my heart because I find so many people are being bullied by others (narcissistic, bullies, jezebel spirits, whatever you want to call it) It is happening and people are not talking about it because they can’t seem to put their finger on it. They don’t have a name for the behavior because innately YOU are not a bully so YOU are left confused by the behaviors.#iamawitness
BULLYING MUST CEASE. But we can’t make it cease if we can’t name its behaviors. We Christians were taught to just “let it go” or “lay down” or “stop talking about it and it will just go away” It doesn’t go away. Bullies do not stop because they bank on the fact you are a good Christian and lay down and be quiet and love and you will not rise up and take a stand and love.
Confrontation IS love.
Church bullies are common in many churches. They wreak havoc and create dissension. They typically must have an “enemy” in the church, because they aren’t happy unless they are fighting a battle. They tend to maneuver to get an official leadership position in the church, such as chairman of the elders or deacons or treasurer. But they may have bully power without any official position.
Where there is a church, there is a bully. (Sorta like my teaching on “Where there is a Prophet, there is a jezebel”) But they seem to be doing their work more furiously today than in recent history because we are getting “Love mixed up with Grace” We teach our members to just be quiet and do not defend yourself and it will just go away. It doesn’t go away. You are right in that you should not promote the gossip by “talking” to everyone about it. The way to shut down a bully is to expose them to a higher authority. If the higher authority doesn’t confront the bully’s behavior because they have already been tainted by the lies and gossip of the bully then you turn to the law. Bullying is illegal.
How do you recognize church bullies or to recognize if you are a church bully. You must take immediate action before it destroys your organization, family, work or relationships.
1) THEY DO NOT RECOGNIZE THEMSELVES AS BULLIES.
To the contrary, they see themselves as necessary heroes sent to save the church from (fill in the blank). Bullies always justify their behavior as “saving” or “helping” or “warning” If you must embellish to get your “point” across, you are a bully.
Last year I had a mother create a relationship with one of my children and begin to create “parent alienation” by speaking negative things about me to my child. Slowly and systematically destroying this child’s support system. (I know, I know, who does this? actually, there are mothers out there that do this sort of stuff, be very careful) An intelligent person or an emotionally mature person has a problem with a parent and they go to the parent. Immature people or those with low emotional intelligence, passively tell the child and involve the child.
Now, does this hurt me? No. Why? Because I am secure in my parenting. Does it hurt the child? Yes. It actually destroys the child’s identity. Because the child is apart of the family unit and the mother/father. (Listen moms and dads, if you are speaking negatively about the other parent in a divorce situation, you are NOT hurting the other parent, you are destroying the child’s ability to trust and reason and their identity. Your only job is to make that idiot (come on, can i get an amen) a hero. You may not like that person and you may have your legitimate opinions and judgments, but the CHILD SHOULD NEVER BEEN INVOLVED!!!
If you involve the child . . .YOU ARE A BULLY. You are passively promoting a bullying agenda. You have an ungodly agenda if you are undermining anyone’s authority. If you have a problem with your pastor or your boss or a member of the congregation. GO TO THE PERSON. Now, if you have no business having an opinion or criticism or judgment then you will go to other people (peers or weaker people that you can control their opinions to get them on your agenda) Bullies seek out to share their “information” with weaker minded people. More on this further down. Ask yourself, “why am I sharing this information and what is the pay off when I do?” Bullies can’t ask themselves such self-aware questions.
2) THEY HAVE PERSONAL AND SELF-SERVING AGENDAS.
They have determined what “their” church should look like. Any person or ministry or program that is contrary to their perceived ideal church must be eliminated.
Remember this, ‘that which threatens, must be attacked” You see, you can only attack, gossip, lie undermine, persuade others to take up a third party offense on your behalf . . . if you are being threatened. You should only share your story or the story of others to people who has the influence or authority to change the situation (or wise counsel, who should always be the same person outside of the situation). Otherwise, keep your mouth shut.
Ask yourself, “I feel I need to share this information with this person, what do I feel threatened by?”
You can ONLY attack that which threatens you. Bullies are threatened by “different” They can’t stand “different” it goes against their moral being. See, their identity is based on their actions (not in who they are), so when they see others having different actions it threatens their decision making.
This woman/parent (referred to in point 1) had a personal issue with my parenting, tried to envelop my child in her judgments/criticism/opinions, when she didn’t get the payoff she was looking for in her agenda (because telling my child negative things about my parenting is a hidden agenda of the heart.) she then shared that same information with others. Promoting her agenda.
Mature people, emotionally intelligent people, would see what they deem a problem and rally around the person and ask where they could help. See, when God reveals a problem to you, it’s because He wants you to be a solution. If you see a problem in church or in someone’s life you are called to go to that person and help them. If you did the opposite and went and share it with others . . .you are a bully. You have an agenda. Those with NO agenda, go to the person. Most people only see problems in others where they feel solid in their own life. If you are solid in that area, then you use that ability to help bring about help and change in the other person. If you didn’t or you are not. You are a bully.
3) THEY SEEK TO FORM POWER ALLIANCES WITH WEAK MEMBERS IN THE CHURCH.
They will pester (I mean, sweetly and concerningly ask to get a meeting or capture the ear of) and convince groups, committees, and persons to be their allies in their cause (I mean agenda).
Weaker church staff members and church members will succumb to their forceful personalities. (forceful, also looks like sweet, demure, caring personalities, they masquerade) They tend to have intense and/or emotional personalities. These bullies use the intensity of their personalities to get their way, promote their agenda.
Whether that be to undermine another human being, alienate others they think or better than them, eliminate that which doesn’t fit into their “box”, undermine/eliminate someone’s deemed position (not only physical positioning but spiritual position or even the position of of the victim in the heart of another individual, example, the pastor loves that person or things that person has real anointing or calling.) That is what parents do when creating parent alienation, they are trying to remove the deemed “threat” from the child’s heart position.
They are famous for saying “people are saying.” They love to gather tidbits of information and shape it to their own agendas. See my previous post on this one item.
This is my favorite example: Same woman/parent in my life example tells MY CHILD, “the neighbors have been talking about calling child protective services about (fill in the blank)”
Recently she said, “all the mothers in the homeschool group are concerned about (fill in the blank)” Real women don’t burden a child with that information. Real women go to the person and tell them the issues. What she is REALLY saying is, I went and told everyone my opinion/judgment/criticism and left out critical parts so that everyone would agree with me and then go around and say “others are saying”
THEY ARE NOTORIOUS FOR THIS BEHAVIOR.
If you are wise, you would ask them, “did you go to the person first? PASTORS or anyone in authority or any smart person, you can always identify a hidden bully by asking them, “did you go to the person with your concerns?”
Their answer is always NO.
HIDDEN BULLY. RED FLAG!! or if you investigate further, you will find out that the bully went to the “others” and “others” never came to the bully with their thoughts and opinions. You know why? Because most people are really just concerned about their own life and never really notice others deemed failures or problems.
Of course, the bully won’t go to the person/victim. They go to others. They form packs. They move into a political spirit and try and rally others to their agenda. So they have false power. They create false authority and false influence in order to take out their victim.
Ask yourself, “before I share this information did I go to the person first? Am I sharing this information to get the other person to agree with me to make me feel I am justified?
4) THEY FIND THEIR GREATEST OPPORTUNITIES IN LOW EXPECTATION CHURCHES.
Many of the church members have an entitlement view of church membership. They seek to get their OWN needs and preferences fulfilled – have you ever said, “the worship just didn’t do it for me today, the pastor is just not teaching meaty stuff, they just don’t have a great childrens/youth/women/men programs, the pastor isn’t teaching on (fill in the blank) and I need to go to another church, they won’t let me be on ?? or teach ??”
They, therefore, won’t trouble themselves to confront and deal with church bullies. When you have an agenda you won’t confront. You won’t confront because you have a need from “man” and you won’t trust God.
I confronted a pastor this last month for not pulling his youth leader out of ministry because of inappropriate texting of a minor child. See, if this pastor confronts and pulls out the youth leader he thinks it says, “I made a bad decision and I will lose authority and influence if people think I made a bad decision. So, he will act to cover it up. He had an agenda, his image.
The woman in my life example lied to others about a conversation I had with the Chairman of the homeschool group stating I threatened her. (thank God for call recordings) So, I asked for a meeting to confront the lie and was told no, “listen, you and I both know you didn’t do it, so just let it go” Agenda. They will protect the bully because it meets an agenda.
Unfortunately, leaders, if you don’t deal with bullying behavior head on, IT WILL NOT GO AWAY. IT GROWS. The bully will retreat for a bit and hide and become super helpful, but its like asking a scorpion to not bite you . . . it is the nature of the scorpion to bite.
Ask yourself, “why will I not confront a lie or a person when a problem is brought to me? what agenda or need do I have? sometimes you just don’t want to rock the boat. But the enemy is playing for keeps and your boat is about to be rocked. Because you have a victim looking for Justice. God is a God of balanced scales. Either the victim will seek action or God will just balance the scales and you won’t know what hit you.
That leads to the next issue, which is a consequence of this point
They are allowed to bully because church members will not stand up to them. I have spoken with pastors and church staff who have been attacked by church bullies. While the bully brings them great pain, they have even greater hurt because most of the church members stood silent and let it happen.
5) THEY CREATE CHAOS AND WREAK HAVOC.
A church bully always has their next mission. While he or she may take a brief break from one bullying mission to the next, they are not content unless they are exerting the full force of their manipulative behavior. They MUST always create situations where they are the hero. They create dust storms and yell fire over there . . .so you don’t see what they are hiding over here.
There is a REAL quantum understanding to the old cliche’ “when one finger is pointing at you, three more are pointing back at them” and those three fingers are “hidden” they are always hiding something. Leaders, when a person brings an unfounded accusation ask God to expose and reveal what they are hiding. Ask God to bring it to the forefront. Once the hidden stuff is brought to the forefront, you can deal with their hidden sin and set them free and give them grace and walk with them in love. You will then see them calm down and not create dust storms. Unfounded accusations are ALWAYS smoke screens. They will stop getting into people’s business where they don’t belong. They will not have a need to promote accusation, lies and gossip. They do this because they are CRYING out for help.
They often move to other churches after they have done their damage. Whether they are forced out or simply get bored, they will move to other churches with the same bullying mission. Some bullies have wreaked havoc in three or more churches. Church bullies hide behind all their reasons for leaving churches, jobs, groups, committees.
We need to make it a policy that we bring a church resume with us when we switch churches!!! just kidding . . .not kidding, wouldn’t that settle a lot of stuff!!
Every single time someone acts inappropriately it must be confronted. EVERY TIME. When you are dealing with a bully, bypass them personally, (you can’t reason with a demon, you can’t counsel a demon, you can’t make peace with a demon) Immediately, go to a higher authority. That may mean legally. You can NOT operate in fear that will get worse if you expose them. Guess what, It will get worse, they scramble, they accuse, they rush around and try and capture everyone’s ears, they scramble to gather their defense and justification. Meanwhile, wreaking havoc for you.
THERE IS HOPE!
BUT!!! BUT!!! BUT!!! God is trying to bring you to a higher level. God is trying to promote you and position you. Jesus being falsely accused was promoted and positioned off of their false accusation and ultimately his death. You must be dead to fear in order to be positioned. You must be dead to fear and dead to the opinion of others to be promoted and positioned. You gain authority, influence, and power, your tent pegs are lengthed when you confront the enemy and expose his tactics.
Please note, you must alway inquire of the Lord to get HIS strategy on how to pursue the enemy. I said pursue. It’s time the enemy stops pursuing YOU and YOU begin to pursue the enemy.
And David inquired of the Lord, “Shall I pursue after this band? Shall I overtake them?” He answered him, “Pursue, for you shall surely overtake and shall surely rescue.”
If you are a school official, teacher, administrator, church administrator or parent that just cares, please contact me about having Break the Grey School Assembly come out to your school and put on a program.
Amy is the Author of Dreams: A Window Into Your Destiny, How To Talk To The UnChurched, and Dream Symbols