Tuesday, September 4, 2012

How To Handle Bullying

The Jews responded to Him, "Aren't we right in saying that You're a Samaritan and have a demon?"  "I do not have a demon," Jesus answered. "On the contrary, I honor My Father and you dishonor Me."  ~ John 8:48-49
Charlotte Dawson is a beautiful, talented, and successful model and TV personality in Australia. Recently she attempted suicide because she was bullied on Twitter. There is no excuse for bullying. It is not manly, but mean. It is not funny, but cruel.  We should teach our children that it will not be tolerated in our homes, our churches, or our schools.
We should teach them something else, too. We should teach them how to handle the inevitable as Jesus did, because they will be bullied, ridiculed, mocked and critcized.  Jesus was bullied. How did He handle it?  There are three specific ways:
First, He handled it by having a greater mission than his own self-worth.  He was about His Fathe'rs business, so what men thought about His actions mattered little to Him.  As long as we teach our children that the world is about them, we will never be able to teach them to ignore what the world says about them.
Second, He handled it by having a greater identity.  Being called a 'Samaritan' in Jesus' day was equivalent to being called the 'N' word in our society. He was also called a demoniac, which meant he was labelled as spiritually and mentally ill. His answer:  "I honor my Father and you dishonor me." Notice that while Jesus was God, He did not draw his identity or worth from Himself. He drew it from ONE relationship. The one He had with His Father.
Third, He handled it by having a greater goal.  His goal is revealed in the verses that followed the accusation of bullies.  "I do not seek My glory, the One who seeks it also judges."  (John 8:50) Jesus' goal was the glory of His Father. Since His goal was not His own glory, what others said about Him mattered much less. If the glory of God is our ultimate goal, when others belittle us it matters much less.
This does not mean that we develop a tolerant attitude toward those who bully. Seeking the glory of God means protecting the weak and innocent.  That does not mean we take vengeance into our own hands. If you want to protect your children and your friends against the inevitable ridicule of this life, help them know Jesus. Help them make His mission, rather than their own self-worth, their mission. Help them learn who He says they are.  Help them make His glory, not theirs, their life's purpose.