Stand Up to Bullying

By Marjorie Foerster Eddington

How do we respond when a friend or maybe just an acquaintance tries to get us to do something we really should not do?

Or what do we do when there’s a face-to-face or cyber-space bully trying to hurt us or our friends?

Do we respond with a powerful NO? Do we answer with authority? Or are we unsure? Do we waver? Are we afraid of what might happen if we don’t acquiesce to the peer/bully pressure?

Individuals who pressure or bully others tend to pick on those who they perceive as weak. They want to have power, to make others feel bad in order to make themselves feel better. Just think of the animal kingdom. The predators don’t go after the strong and healthy prey; they go for the weak ones whom they can take down much more easily. Why would they want to work hard when they can work more easily?

We want to be wise and courageous so that we can handle any type of temptation or confrontation with dominion. We may think that we’re vulnerable or weak. Perhaps we feel that we’re not enough, that no one really cares for us. So then we might give in to peer pressure, stop thinking for ourselves, even think that just taking part, a little bit, in any wrong activity is ok because at least we’ll have friends. And then, we may find ourselves stuck in a downward spiral. That’s not where we really want to be.

So how do we feel strong, able to meet challenges that may arise? How do we stand up for ourselves, for our friends, and for what is right? How do we gain authority? At the end of the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew explains that the crowds to whom Jesus was speaking were “amazed,” astonished, shocked, dumb-founded—not just by what Jesus taught, but by the way in which he taught and spoke: “he taught with real authority” (Matt 7:28, 29). In other words, he had power from God.

We can have that same authority because it comes directly from God. It’s our God-given gift. We do not create power. That should be a huge relief. We don’t have to take the right stance all by ourselves. Now, we may be the only one doing the right thing, but we’re not alone; we have God to help us out. So that means that we lean on God, just like Jesus did. Like Jesus, we speak with authority to those who would try to hurt us or to tempt us to do things that would hurt us. We listen for God’s directions. We don’t take the bait. We stay calm. We don’t let emotions get the better of us. We stay outwardly strong. It’s often best to walk away.

What Jesus did with the authority that came from leaning on God was awesome. He healed the blind, the lame, the deaf, the sick, the paralyzed, and raised the dead; he even calmed storms. So when we lean on God, we can defeat any temptation from peers; we can stand up to bullying; we can say NO! Because a NO to bullying and peer pressure means a YES to God, to freedom, to authority.