When your child is being bullied there is great potential to allow your emotions to lead you away from acting with wisdom and self-control. Perhaps you’ve seen this to be true already. Or perhaps you are fighting against vengeful scenarios in your head that seem appealing but you know are not pleasing to God.
More information about what has happened and what will happen will likely come to light in God’s purposeful timing. But how do you navigate the initial moments, when the outcome and details are still unknown?
You’ve probably heard the saying “Ready! Fire! Aim!” which pokes fun at those who tend to act before thinking. We need to be careful not to let that be characteristic of our response to bullying. Your “aim” is vital, and it is well worth the effort to consider where you are pointed before taking any further action. You need to know what the right destination is and how to get there. Where should the parent of a bullied child aim? I’ll give you a hint: it’s not at relief from the conflict.
As parents, we want good things for our children. We want them to be liked and accepted by other children. We want them to be spared the pain of rejection and humiliation. We want them to be good friends and to have good friends. We want them to fit in, at least in the right ways. As a parent, you are to be commended for wanting these things.
But you cannot let those desires become so important to you that you pursue them at the cost of obedience to God or of being distracted from pursuing righteousness. The Bible informs us that when we do this, “good” things become idolatrous because they directly compete with Christ’s rule in our hearts. If that becomes the case, your aim is tragically off the mark.
But does it really matter if you still get the issue resolved? Of course it matters, primarily because of what’s at stake: God’s glory. I don’t want to trivialize the intensity and effect of this trial on your family, but this matter is way bigger than you or even your child.
Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31)
Here the apostle Paul reminds us that “whatever” we do, our aim is to bring glory and honor to God. This includes every aspect of your life, even parenting your child through the trial of bullying. Everything you do, think, or say has the potential to bring glory and honor to God, or to eclipse his grace and end up dishonoring him.
When the desire to glorify God is your aim, you can be confident that other desires will not be idolatrous. But when your desires for justice and relief overpower (become more important than) your desire for God’s glory, then Jesus calls those desires “evil treasures”:
The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart. (Luke 6:45)
It is critical for you to understand this truth: whatever governs your heart (your most powerful desire) is what governs your outward responses. Allow sinful treasures to rule, and sin comes out. But when the desire to honor God rules your heart, faithful obedience ensues. If you want God to be pleased with your response, you must first discern what you treasure the most.
In Luke 6:45, Jesus shows us how to discern what is reigning in our hearts: by observing the actions and attitudes that come out of us. At all times we leave a trail of evidence that exposes what’s ruling our hearts. You can see this connection between inner treasures and outward responses in James:
For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. (James 3:16–17)
Make it your aim to bring glory and honor to God through faithful obedience in this trial. Like King David, ask the Lord to help you see what’s ruling your heart:
Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way. (Psalm 139:23–24)
If sinful treasures are exposed, confess them to God, rejoice in his forgiveness, and ask for his grace to turn from sin to faithful obedience.
[This post is written by Tim Keeter, and excerpted from his new mini-book HELP! My Child Is Being Bullied.]