For years, I struggled with a hurt that happened to me in the church: I had been bullied repeatedly until I finally gave up a ministry. When I asked God why He had called me into that ministry, He replied to my spirit, “You needed to learn to be satisfied with the ministries I have given you.” Ouch! The following years, I knew the bullying had been in His will. I accepted His will, but I continued to feel hurt because of what the women had done to me. I continued to struggle and wonder why they had treated me in such a manner.
One day, after again praying about it, God laid Matthew 5:11–12 on my heart: “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” I had been persecuted because of my passion for Jesus Christ. Great will be my reward in heaven.
Now, I find joy each time the hurt resurfaces in my heart. Other verses that help me remember to rejoice over the hurt include the following: 2 Chronicles 36:16; 1 Samuel 8:7; Psalm 119:86–87; and 2 Corinthians 4:8. Romans 12:14 tell us that we are to bless those who persecute us. That is what Jesus did. As He hung on the cross, He prayed for those who had crucified Him.
What I learned from adult bullying in the church:
Pray, pray, pray. In Matthew 7:7–8 and Luke 11:9–10, the Greek words used mean constant asking, seeking, and knocking. We must not give up until God answers us.
Discuss it with your pastor. He has probably encountered adult bullying in the church and can give you good advice.
Instead of struggling for years as I did, remember bullying is persecution, and when you are persecuted because of your passion for Christ, you are blessed!
People can or will bully you in many ways in the church. They might deliberately ignore you when you’re trying to lead, teach, or pray; they may talk about you behind your back; they might tell lies about you; they might fuss each time you attempt to say or do anything; they might undermine you in what you are attempting to do for the Lord; they might hold your past against you, not forgiving you of your sins as Christ has forgiven you (remember, you are a new creation as God tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:17); or they may not like you because you’re different, of a different race, more passionate about Christ, or poor.
Sadly, some Christians in the church will succumb to the temptation of bullying their brothers and sisters in Christ instead of supporting and encouraging them. May we not be those who bully.
Keneta Wolfenbarger says to send notes, cards, and emails of encouragement to your pastor and others in your church.