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Books for those in ministry organizations who desire to take their leadership, teams, governance, and ministry effectiveness to the next level.

17 Jun '14

How to spot a bully in the church

Posted by T.J. Addington
Newsflash: There are often people in a church who are bullies and get away with it because church leadership is too nice to call them out on their destructive behavior. Often we know something is not right but how do we know when behavior has crossed a line and is unacceptable? Here are some behavioral signs that you may be dealing with a bully.

They have to get their own way. If a group decision is not their liking and they insist that things are done their way, beware.

They intimidate in order to get their way. It can be intimidation in attitude, not letting go of an issue, always pushing or threats of one sort or another.

They triangulate others into their orbit in order to put pressure on leaders. Talking around about their "concerns" (which is nothing other than manipulation) they develop a group that they rope into their point of view so now there is a group dynamic to the bullying.

They criticize others, usually leaders in private seeking to undermine the authority of a leader or leaders. Often those they talk to will take up the offense or cause without any reason for doing so.

No matter how much attention they are given or how many conversations one has with them they do not move off their position. It is their way or no way.

They often raise their issues in congregational meetings seeking to force the hand of leadership. Nor are they nice about what they have to say.

They do not respect authority. Especially church authority - unless they are in church leadership in which case they demand others respect their authority.

They cloak their concerns and language in spiritual terms. When behaviors don't match the words, don't be fooled. This is not spiritual it is about power and getting one's way.

When confronted they deny, fight back or lie. They are not willing to be held accountable.

They hurt people who get in their way but they are never wrong and rarely apologize. After all it is about them, not others.

Why do bullies get their way in many churches? Because they can and because fellow Christians are not very smart about what is going on. After all, would a fellow Christian have ulterior motives??? The answer in many situations is "absolutely." Don't be fooled and don't be intimidated, and don't allow these kinds of behaviors in your church. It is divisive, dangerous, ungodly and evil. Call it for what it is.