A good friend of mine was verbally blindsided. While in a denominational meeting, what was a mild discussion turned into something more. Seemingly out of nowhere, an individual rose up and spewed ridiculous expressions in front of a group of people. While we all sat stunned, he kindly replied with class and strength. This event is not unusual in church and denominational life. I have witnessed many types of people who are out for power, or blood, whichever can propel them into the limelight and feed the need for influence. Bullies all seem to want the same thing: power. They either have a deep troubling need of their own or they are trying to overcome a desire to fit in.
When it comes to church life things don’t change because people are just people. The problem is that we are to be changed by Jesus Christ. We are to be new creatures, but instead, some things do not change. Why people bully is simple. How they bully is more complex. Here is a list of several types of church bullies.
1. The Elephant – this one just blows through everyone with strength and noise without really recognizing they are doing it. This type is obvious to most of us because it is the most public. The Elephant rumbles through meetings with volume and bravado. He will over-talk and out-talk the victim making them feel belittled and useless. People get trampled and wasted. While this person will come right at those who offend, there is no love or respect in their actions.
2. The Puppet-Master – this one goes behind the scenes gathering up people and makes a power play. The puppet-master is opposite the Elephant. Instead of going straight at their offender, he controls those around. The Puppet-Master strings up person after person with the lies or gossip they want others to believe. When they feel like they have enough people on their side, they will make a move. Controlling the action from the background allows them to seem to be innocent when they are bullying everyone from their minions to the target.
3. The IED – this blows up unexpectedly harming all who are around. This one hides in the sand just underneath the surface waiting for the target to walk across them. When the mark does just the right thing the IED blows up. This bully is that person everyone tells you to avoid and history speaks for itself. Don’t talk to her in the morning until after their coffee. Don’t bring up this or that topic. If you find yourself dodging certain people you might be a victim!
4. The Stealth Bomber is a combination of the Puppet-Master and the IED with tech savvy. She flies under the radar until the bomb is dropped, there is much work done while in stealth mode. Through texts, emails, and pm’s she will gather all the information needed to make a sneak attack. One model might cloak with smiles and handshakes while secretly stabbing you in the back. Another stays cloaked, whispering in the dark hallways.
5. The Hijacker is a new addition to the church bully hall of fame. This bully uses emotion to control the flow of information and decision-making. Usually, this person will use tears and a cracking voice while grabbing for the tissues. While blowing their nose and drying their eyes they express their position in a long and drawn out way to acquire the approval of everyone around. To bully others into supporting a position is something most people cannot handle. So, they go along to keep the peace and ease the false tension in the atmosphere prepared by the Hijacker. You need to be aware of this type because it is on the rise.
6. The Air Horn uses short blasts of language to stifle any debate or discussion. She uses spiritual, church lingo to stop all arguments and debates. For example, the church might need to discuss an important topic but gets stopped with a spiritual platitude. The Air Horn will say things like “You just gotta have faith” as if you don’t. Another phrase might be “You just have to trust God” as if you don’t. This bully uses spiritual phrases that make you feel less of a Christian simply because you use logic and reason.
The point is that bullies are not Biblical regardless of their intent or speech. Jesus made it clear how we are to handle things if someone offends us. You go to that person in love and discuss rationally the issue at hand. If there is no resolution and it is a serious spiritual matter then take a couple of people with you to discuss the matter. There is only One who is to have power in the church and He is God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. We, in this day, have been given the Spirit as a Comforter, Guide, and Counselor. May we not walk away from Scripture or the Spirit just to get a power fix.
Stop the bullying. Exchange it for love and respect which is commanded by God.