Posted tagged ‘Bullying’

Updating My Book

March 1, 2020

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                          March 1, 2020

                                        

My recently released book Red Hot: New Life in Fleming received its first review a few days ago. The reviewer gave it 5 Stars. Here is what was written:

I just finished reading this book and I enjoyed it immensely. I would consider this book light reading and to me that is definitely a plus! It deals with bullying and also pressures that are sometimes put on students that we as parents are sometimes not aware of. It has a homespun feel to it and it took me back to my childhood on several occasions. The two main characters show us what true friendship is all about and how they maintain that friendship through adolescent struggles. Most of us can relate to this while looking back on our own teenage years. I highly recommend this book for readers of all ages. You won’t be disappointed.

That was cool!

Okay, true confession! I know the person who wrote the review, although I’m not related to her. She attends the same church my sister does in southern Ohio and is probably reading these words. BUT she was sincere in what she said in her review! That’s just how she is!

On Friday, one of the language arts teachers at the school where I’m teaching read the first chapter of the book to each of her classes. I had kids coming up to me between classes and telling me how much they enjoyed the first chapter.

So now to just get people to read it! My youngest daughter is counseling me to get on Instagram and do that whole thing! She will have to guide me! My sister-in-law has bought a couple of copies and taken them to her town’s public library in Clarendon Hills, Illinois. The Timberview Middle School library has three copies of it for students to check out.ng, In

Going through Kindle Direct Publishing is easy in many ways…until you get to the marketing part of the equation. It’s a whole new experience at that point. 

And while I’m trying to get the first book known, I’ve been revising the second book in the series, Red Hot: New Grace in Fleming. There’s a student at my middle school who read the draft of the first book and has been salivating about the second book. I print off 40-50 pages at a time and take it to her at school. Whenever I’m handing her the new folder of print she breaks out in a grin and receives the newest additions as if it’s food for a starving person. In some ways, it has inspired me to be more disciplined in my revising in order to satisfy her appetite.

A couple of other people I know who have read the first book have been eagerly awaiting the sequel. Well, …their comments are more like…”We’re waiting!!!” I envision folded arms and impatient teacher-types, staring at me with consternation.

So…today I’ll revise 2 or 3 more chapters and push the dogs toward the finish line!

(The first book is available on Amazon in paperback or Kindle. From March 22-29 is it free on Kindle. Otherwise, you’ll have to fork over $2.99! The paperback is $11.99! Save your pennies!)

Opening A Door

January 23, 2015

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                  January 23, 2015

                                                  

I watched a video online this week that my wife had forwarded to me that brought me to the edge of tears. It told a story about a young man who had lost his dad, and then he and his mom used from a small town to a city. His mom thought a change in setting would ease some of her son’s pain as he dealt with his father’s death. His new high school was substantially larger than the one in his small town.

It’s hard being the new kid in a setting where people have their friends already, their peer groups, and their places of standing. That is, high schoolers know the pecking order…who to give space to, who to chum up with, and, hard as it is to say, who doesn’t matter that much.

This young man, Josh, started to be picked on and bullied. He had pictures in his locker of his father that got torn down. Sometimes insecure students will do unbelievably cruel things to others…just because!

In the midst of new surroundings and a journey of grief Josh started opening doors for people. He would arrive at school early and hold the door open for other students coming in. In between classes he would hold the hallway door open as students rushed from class to class. After a while some of the students started noticing. He started being referred to as “the door guy.” More and more students started saying “thank you” or they would give Josh a high five! More students became familiar with his story and were taken back by his wounded heart that was still looking at doing simple acts of kindness.

Such a simple thing! Opening a door!

Josh began speaking to groups of elementary and middle school students about bullying and overcoming. He developed his new gift of public speaking…and continued to open doors!

I so often hear people say they have nothing to offer, that they don’t know what their gifts are and how they can serve. There’s a tendency to make it a grandiose thing that is out of their reach. They wallow in their defeat and sense of worthlessness.

Josh’s story hit me, because almost all of us can open a door for someone. Seeking to help is a personal decision, not a talent. Every person can be a benefit to others. Telling a cashier that you hope he has a good day, shoveling your neighbor’s sidewalk, donating a book to the library, mentoring a fatherless child, praying with a parent in a hospital waiting room, or…simply opening a door!

Opening doors doesn’t require training, or to be certified. It’s simply a choice that we avoid or welcome.

 

Adult Bullies In Pastor Bodies

February 21, 2014

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                           February 21, 2014

 

Earlier this week I wrote a blog about “Adult Bullies in Churches”. It got more views, clicks, hits, or whatever you want to call it then any other blog post I’ve had except one. One of the comments about it was from someone who wondered about pastors and churches that are bullies. I promised that I would pursue the suggestion. Since I’ve been a pastor for just shy of thirty-five years it is right in my backyard. I’ll try not to be threatened by it, but also offer a balanced view of the situation.

Quite honestly, I think there have been, and are, pastors that bully. Most of the time the bullying is veiled behind an appearance of spirituality. The pastor conveys the idea that he/she is closer to God because he/she is more into the Word of God, and spends more time meditating about the ways of the Lord. People who question the pastor’s leadings and motives are often subjected to scorn and ridicule “in the name of Jesus.” 

When a pastor communicates by words and actions that he is closer to the Lord than anyone else a power play in is the works. When a pastor keeps promoting his vision that the Lord has given him…that, ironically, needs to be funded by the congregation, beware of the pleas that question how committed the people of the Body are.

I remember the words of an American Baptist pastor from Michigan, Jack Harris, spoken many years ago. Jack who served churches for a span of time just shy of Methuselah, said that the pastor was the sheep dog. Jesus was the shepherd. The pastor is entrusted with the responsibility of keeping the congregation headed in the direction of the Good Shepherd, not trying to be the Good Shepherd.

Some are uncomfortable with such a picture. They think a sheep dog has a little bullying in his actions, but the sheep dog is always about keeping the herd safe and headed in the direction they should be headed. Sometimes that requires a little more barking, but it is never to make the barker look more important than anyone else.

There are also pastors who firmly believe that they have been empowered with the authority to do anything. They view themselves as being like Moses, who was up on the mountain with the Lord receiving some divine words, and then had to return to the chaos of people dancing around a golden calf. I think it is easy for pastors to take on the “Moses Mentality” that the people they lead are prone to screwing up their lives. Thus, they need a strong voice that doesn’t put up with any nonsense and indicates it is either the pastor’s way or the highway. If such an ultimatum doesn’t work the pastor will sometimes even bring Satan into the equation. In other words, it is either his way or he’s going to hand them over to the Dark Side.

Accusing people of being of the world is a favorite bullying tactic. Sometimes I get discouraged by those who choose to follow other pursuits and interests instead of being at church on a consistent basis on Sunday morning. The temptation to focus on the lack of commitment gets especially strong around June and July.

A last thought! A pastor has been called to lead, but the leading must mirror the Philippians 2 passage about Jesus, who “being in very nature God (Not us! Don’t think that I’m saying we’re God, or God-like, but rather with a leaning sometimes towards being “Godly!”), did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant.” (Philippians 2:6-7) Being a pastor is more about serving than it is about getting one’s way. A pastor gets the privilege of administering the communion elements, baptizing a new believer, talking to someone about a major life decision, conducting the union of two people coming together in the covenant relationship of marriage, saying the final words as a follower of Jesus is lowered into the ground, sitting with a heart-broken family who has lost a special person. If a pastor’s base grows out of bullying and intimidation it leads to a fracturing of everything else, including the devastating fracturing of people’s lives.

Being like Jesus will always be more about a basin of water and a towel than a charge up a hill.

 

Adult Bullies in Churches

February 18, 2014

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                     February 17, 2014

 

                                  

 

    We shouldn’t expect it to be different from how it has been. The church has always had bullies. John wrote about one in his third letter. His name was “Diotrephes.” (3 John 1:9-10) He had a reputation for gossiping maliciously, being inhospitable, and keeping others from being hospitable. Diotrephes didn’t invent bullying. He just excelled at being one.

The Sadducees were bullies. They were also “sad, you see!” Sorry, reverted to my Southern Baptist childhood Sunday School class there for a moment!

In this age when there is a growing emphasis on “anti-bullying” in our schools, at our workplaces, on our sports teams, and in our neighborhoods, we must realize that churches have the worst kind of bullies. They are the worst because they clothe the bullying in spiritual language and act like Jesus has ordained their actions.

Churches are also the worst place for bullies because we believe strongly about grace and forgiveness. We’re suppose to love our brother…even the ones who will use that to intimidate us. As one person said many years ago: “Churches put up with people that no one else will.”

Adult bullies in church come in all legal ages. They are not gender-specific, or based on a certain level of income. They come in all shapes and sizes, some with frowns, but others with smiles that fool.

How do adult bullies in church do what they do? One vehicle that is used is making people think it’s all about the person instead of the mission of the church. Bullies think they are irreplaceable, that the church’s one foundation…is them! Part of their intimidation, strange as it sounds, is getting people to buy into that idea. When that happens other members of the church start saying things like, “We can’t afford to lose them. They give so much money!”

     Money is a power play for much of our culture, but it should never hold that kind of sway in the church. Money is a way of showing gratitude, not getting people to follow what I want to do.

Adult bullies in churches use fear to keep themselves in power. Fear fosters spiritual immobility.

Other bullies in the church use their special talents to hold people hostage. “If she leaves who will teach the elementary age Sunday School class.”  

     “There’s nobody else to play the organ. Give him what he wants.”

     Talents become a trump card, not a way of performing an act of service.

So what does the church do when adult bullies throw their weight around? Love them, but hold the door open for them also. The church is bigger than any one person. The mission is more important than any one threatening individual.  The agenda of the Kingdom of God is more urgent than the preference of any “self-proclaimed king.”

There are times in any church’s life where it is essential for someone to step up and give words of conviction or exhortation. That’s not bullying, that’s motivating. there are times when a church needs someone to lead the charge. That’s not bullying, that’s spearheading a charge.

It is easy to forget that Paul compared the church to a “body”, where every person is a part, and every person is important. God’s plan is for a smoothly functioning Body of Christ. The reality is we often fall short. The reality is that there are periods where the Body is functioning smoothly, that there is a rhythm…and then long gaps of dysfunction.

May the Lord help us!

Karen Klein Grace

June 22, 2012

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                        June 22, 2012

 

 

What would you do if you had been sitting on a school bus and been mercilessly teased by some classmates about your height, or your weight, or your stuttering problem, or some other personal difficulty that had a way of making you feel like half of a person? Some of us went through experiences like that…eighth graders tormenting the new sixth grader on the bus…obnoxious varsity athletes saying inappropriate things to an introverted young lady…bullies making fun of the math whiz…sometimes the school bus was the worst part of the school day.

Most of us, however, were infuriated at the completely different level by the viral video of a 68 year old, hard-of-hearing, grandmother of eight lady named Karen Klein. A school bus monitor in New York, she was tormented worse than the worst belittling of any political campaign commercial by four middle school male students. A fifth student videoed the torture on his cell phone, and then posted it.

The story hit the major news telecasts, and a fund was started to send Karen Klein on a vacation. The fund has raised over $450,000. Obviously the incident touched two nerves- one of outrage and the other of generosity.

Karen Klein’s sense of forgiveness and grace has risen to the surface in the midst of this. Whereas, many of us might be mentally constructing some gallows, she has voiced her hope that no criminal charges be issued. Perhaps the most appropriate discipline, she suggests, would be a one year ban on riding the school bus. The school district is weighing what the consequences should be for the students involved.

The situation has raised to the surface something that doesn’t get talked about very often, and that is, generational discomfort and disrespect. Too often there are inappropriate words and actions said or done b y adults towards the youngest generations. Hang around a mall long enough and you’ll hear some adult griping about sagging pants, ear-ringed guys, or inappropriately dressed young ladies. But, on the other side, watch a young adult who gets stuck behind a senior citizen driving five miles under the speed limit and the reaction is unbelievable impatience.

“Karen Klein grace” is an element that someone should write a book about. A grace that forgives, and encourages caring for one another even after mistreatment has occurred. A grace that is open to hearing what is going on in the other person’s life, even though I have a physical hearing problem. It’s a grace that has been through the flames (Her son committed suicide ten years ago.), and knows the depths a life might fall to, but the hope that a life can also rise back to.

It’s interesting that this story broke the week after I preached about the passage in James 3:1-12, about the power and potential of our words. It’s a reminder of the damage they can cause, or the joy they can help create.

I’m sure that as Karen Klein journeys with her grand-kids to Disney World on a vacation that has been given to her, there will be a degree of sadness. To realize that the Magic Kingdom experience is because of the troubling words of a few adolescents will not be forgotten by her.

I pray that her sense of being a grace-filled and gracious person will remain as clear within her heart and life.