“The mouth of the wicked is full of curses and lies and threats; trouble and evil are under his tongue.” Proverbs 10:7
Intimidators are bullies. They make others feel inadequate, unworthy, ashamed, fearful – any emotion that will allow them to maintain a position of dominance. Name calling, threatening language, belittling words – and yelling. They make you feel guilty, unappreciated, unworthy, and full of doubt. Intimidators seek control and power.
I hope, honest to God, that none of you have to deal with an intimidator on a regular basis. And I really pray that this is not what your marriage looks like. It’s so tough to deal with intimidation – not impossible, but very tough.
God never meant for anyone to oppress or dominate another person.
I have been thinking about bullying recently – my daughter will start middle school next year and it’s scaring the snot out of me! Girls can be so mean with their words. And I pray to God that it’s not my daughter who becomes the Alpha Mean Girl…
Scripture gives us several good examples of how to respond to intimidation.
- Nehemiah 6:1-17 where a group of men came and attempted to intimidate Nehemiah and cause him to stop rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. They used lies, accusations, slander, and exaggeration in the hopes of creating fear and discouragement. How did Nehemiah respond?
- I Kings 19:1-4 where Elijah has just completed a demonstration on Mt. Carmel and God smote (favorite word!) the prophets of Baal. Then evil queen Jezebel sent death threats to Elijah. How did he respond?
- I Samuel 17:41-47 where David goes out to fight Goliath and Goliath hurls all kinds of intimidating insults and threats at David. How did David respond?
- Acts 4:18-20, 29 where Peter and John were threatened by the chief priests and elders and instructed to quit preaching about Jesus. How did they respond?
Good passages for us to review - good insight there regarding how to respond to intimidation.
One last thought – do you use intimidation as a parenting tactic? Yelling, threatening, making a child feel guilty, forcing a child to obey out of fear? Many of us do it occasionally… “Get back in bed or I will beat your rear end!!” etc. However, parenting by intimidation is not going to bring about the long-term results you desire. Notice I said long-term. It might work for the moment, but eventually your threats will come up empty. Parenting by intimidation is fear-based, not consequences-based, which creates a terrible dynamic between parent and child… resentment, anger… and it’s not very effective. You can enforce consequences for rule-breaking without creating an environment of fear. Tricky – but possible. You want your kids to love you and know you are fair, not fear you.
“But You have saved us from our adversaries, and You have put to shame those who hate us. In God we have boasted all day long, and we will give thanks to Your name forever.” Psalm 44:7-8
30 Days to Taming Your Tongue, a Bible study by Deborah Pegues