I hear it and I'm sure you have lately... another student is being bullied OR is bullying others.
The term "bullying" is thrown around and communicated today as if it's a new idea. But bullying has existed long before the term. Bullying began with the first brothers, Cain and Abel. After sin entered the world, the first family to ever exist resulted in the ultimate bullying, murder.
While there are serious threats made to students every day, most of what is going on in public schools today has gone on forever.
#1 Everything is not bullying. We are in a time of hyper-sensitivity. Social media has portrayed the desire to be noticed. When we are not noticed or our picture on Instagram isn't liked as much as others, some become angry. Angry enough to hold grudges towards other people who receive more "likes" than them. Crazy right? It is actually the norm in student culture (and I hope not parents!)
#2 Bullying is at the heart of man. At the center of human life is the desire for self. It is the "me-monster" gene I like to call it. We are born with an innate desire for what we want, when we want it and how we want it. Bullying is evil, disrespectful, hateful, prideful, mean, and egocentric.
#3 God has called us to live differently towards bullies and those hurt by bullies.
To the one who is being bullied: Jesus taught us to love our ENEMIES and not seek revenge. When people insult you, He taught us to pray for them.
We live in a culture of blame. It is natural to be selfish. We have a choice to make in our student ministries, families and personal lives. Conform to the culture of selfishness or... live the alternative of living selflessly.
To the bully: You are acting out your own insecurity.
When someone picks on another person, it reveals their identity. You show me a student who bullies and I can usually pinpoint a broken heart, abuse or hurt that triggers their behavior. What I truly believe is that students who feel the need to bully need Jesus just as much as the one being bullied.
Wait a minute, Josh. Seriously?
Yes, Jesus had a lot to say about "bullying." He was bullied a lot. Jesus was not even welcome in His hometown. His closest companions left Him the night before He was to die on the cross. He was denied by one of his closest friends, Peter. He was spit upon and called a blasphemer by the crowd. The pharisees wanted to crucify Him over a murderer because of the hate they had towards Him.
Notice what Jesus said in Matthew 5:43-47: “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that.
True Christ-like love is directed towards enemies. Love that matters is the type that causes us to dig deep into God in order to give it out.
"She didn't talk to me." "I wanted to do what I wanted to do but could not do it!" "They made fun of me." "He told me I was ugly."
Have you heard these statements before from students? It is a continual part of student ministry. Let's face it. People can be mean, especially those who don't know Jesus.
Our goal should be to guide our students to live selflessly in a selfish world. If we are not focused, we can create a generation of selfishness masked inside of the hypersensitivity to everyone treating each other perfectly.
We should ALWAYS defend students that are being bullied and hurt. Our ministries and families should be safe places for students.
But at the same time, let's prepare students to know how to respond and not react to being bullied. It will happen no matter how hard we as student pastors and parents try to avoid it.
What will be your response? Will it include comfort that God gives AND prayer for the person who hurt you?