What You Need to Know to Deal with Bullies

Bully “One who hurts or browbeats”[1]

Having recently counseled people dealing with bullies got my husband, Larry, thinking about how prevalent they are. Here are some lessons he learned.

My walk home from elementary school often included unpleasant encounters with local bullies. I hid my money for a butter brickle ice cream cone in my shoe. This precaution protected my money—and me.

I’m grown, but bullies have continued to pop up in my life. They’ve shown up in places I’ve worked, in seminary, in extended family, and even in church.

Bullies use their advantages to steal more than ice cream money. They take our freedom, dignity, and closeness with God if we let them.

What can we do about bullies?

What can we do about bullies? #wisdom Click To Tweet
  • Protect (Matt. 10:29-32; 1 Cor. 6:19, 20)

    We belong to God, and it is good and right to protect ourselves from physical and emotional harm and the loss of personal freedom (Gal. 5:1).

    Seminary was challenging in more ways than one. One of my professors used his position to intimidate students into swallowing his views and punished thinkers who expressed their own thoughts. Debriefing with the Lord, Debbie, and a few trusted classmates helped me protect my beliefs. I learned not to throw my pearls to pigs (Matt. 7:6).

  • Pivot

    Sometimes the way to escape is to leave unhealthy relationships. Abraham had to do this with his nephew Lot and later with his son Ishmael. Jacob had to create distance with his father-in-law.

    Sometimes we can’t leave, but we can change how we relate to unsafe people. When I had a neighbor who screamed at me and lied about me I sensed the Lord say, “Shake the dust off your feet.” Obeying His prompting released me from the pressure to continue trying to build a friendship with someone I couldn’t trust or change and allowed my relationship with other neighbors to prosper.

  • Transplant

    God took Abraham into a foreign land and promised to bless him. Sometimes we’re tempted to stay in unhealthy relationships because they’re familiar. To leave the old and seek the new, throws us into the unknown.

    When I had to emotionally leave a family relationship I valued, it saddened me—still does—but God has brought me a spiritual family that is grander than I ever expected.

If we can help you handle bullies better or help you stop being a bully, please contact us. You are very important to God and to us.

Thank you for your support throughout the year. Your generosity allows us to bring hope and guidance through counseling, coaching, and Bible studies. Please consider Lighthouse in your year-end giving.

What tips would you add?






[1]Webster’s New World Dictionary


More From This Category

Israel, Daniel, and Our Hope in Crushing Times

Israel, Daniel, and Our Hope in Crushing Times

On the heels of my father’s death, we learned my father-in-law had lung cancer. Shortly after that we received two more rounds of bad news. I wrote in my journal, “Lord, I feel like a squished grape.” Have you ever been flattened by bad news? God gave Daniel a vision...

read more
Love in a Seatbelt: Why Sometimes Tighter Fits Better

Love in a Seatbelt: Why Sometimes Tighter Fits Better

Is it loving or unloving to put limits on your children, yourself, or others? Do we encroach on individual rights when we say, “No”? My eyes must have widened when a mother with young children mentioned, “According to a parenting book, we shouldn't tell our children...

read more
One Way to Become Strong in Battle

One Way to Become Strong in Battle

When I started writing Little Faith, Big God on the men and women in Hebrews 11, I quickly realized their stories were too rich to skim over in one book. As I considered how to divide the group, Hebrews 11:34 (NLT) arrested my attention. Their weakness was turned to...

read more



  1. Ann Musico

    These are wonderful insights. Thank you for sharing as we all encounter bullies from time to time.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Ann, thank you for your encouragement. I hope you enjoy a wonderful Christmas season!

  2. Melissa Henderson

    Very good tips. Bullying can happen at any age and at any time. I am thankful for God’s protection.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Thank you, Melissa. Yes, we need God’s protection and discernment. Merry Christmas!

  3. Karen Friday

    Such good advice on how to deal with bullies. Larry, you are right, bullies grow up right beside us and we find them in our adulthood. They are often in our workplace, online and even in church as you mentioned. When we can’t leave the relationship, we can still change how we relate to unsafe people. This is a great tool in my arsenal going forward with a bully in my extended family. Thank you!

    • Debbie Wilson

      Karen, it’s hard for some to acknowledge the reality that bullies are in places and groups we thought would be safe. But truth sets us free. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts.

Pin It on Pinterest