Seven Ways to Prevent Bullying
First, an update to my original 2020 article…
People and events shape who we are.
I was bullied during my adolescent years and have shared my story several times in support of National Bullying Prevention Week.
The last time I shared my story, I received stinging criticism that I bullied others, and my attitudes, words, and actions toward them were hurtful. Just as I was shaped by my bullying experience, I now understand that those I bullied were impacted by my behavior toward them. I am so sorry.
The psychological term for my behavior is “Displacement – a defense mechanism in which a person redirects a negative emotion from its original source to a less threatening recipient.” In my anger, frustration, fear, and anxiety, I’m confident that I took my negative emotions out on others.
Unfortunately, my regretful behavior continued into my college and early career. I became the intimidator for fear of anyone intimidating me.
I accept responsibility for my conduct, and if you were at any point the brunt of my regretful behavior, please forgive me. It wasn’t until the Lord got a hold of me that I put down my defenses. I discovered what it meant to love people…
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8, English Standard Version)
I surrendered my desire to rise and fight back no matter the situation to him. He transformed my mind, will, and emotions, ended my need to intimidate, and empowered me to love others. Admittedly, I’m still a work in process and have a long, long way to go.
How about you?
If you’re a bully or intimidate others, maybe you’re displacing your emotions on others. Do as I did, examine your ways, and surrender them to the Lord. He alone can change hearts, and changed hearts change behavior.
If you’ve been bullied or know someone who has, I encourage you to read my story and the seven ways to prevent it.
Lastly, UNITY DAY is October 19, 2022. Will you “wear and share orange for kindness, acceptance, and inclusion and to send a visible message that no child should ever experience bullying” with me? Visit https://www.pacer.org/bullying/nbpm/unity-day.asp to learn more.
Now, here’s my original article. I hope you are inspired to help prevent bullying! Good reading…
After becoming a Christian in the eighth grade, I shared my newfound faith with everyone. I hoped my relationship with Jesus would be contagious. After a few months of sharing, multiple friends called and asked to come to church with me. I was so excited! Some came and responded to the gospel as I had. But others decided that the Christian faith wasn’t for them. These “friends” who’d rejected the message began to reject me as well.
Being bullied became a constant pattern in my life. I was ridiculed and ostracized by my “friends.” I was physically or verbally threatened on several occasions because of my beliefs.
One semester, a group of tough guys began intimidating me. They’d sneak up on me and whisper, “Do you want to fight? You’d better watch yourself after school. We’re gonna kick your butt!” They were relentless. The bullies stared and laughed at me in class, followed me down the halls every day, and prevented me from getting into my locker. I was scared to death and felt like no one could help me.
I didn’t know how to fight back. I was a scrawny, five-foot-two kid who weighed eighty pounds soaking wet. The bullies seemed like they were ten feet tall. Their intimidation became overbearing, so I went to see the school counselor. After hearing my story, he began escorting me to the bike rack after school for the next month. I’d unlock my bike, hop on, and ride like the wind, hoping to get home before the bullies caught me.
One time, I was home alone, and the doorbell rang. Two bullies were at the door. They tried to pull me outside and beat me up—in a nice, middle-class neighborhood, no less! I forced the door shut. They looked for another way into the house, calling me names as I hid inside. I tried to call my neighbors for help. No one was home. I was so scared that the bullies would find a way into my house that I called the police. The bullies left.
My dad came home, and I told him what had happened. Trying to help me, he called the bullies’ parents and had stern conversations with them. Well, you can imagine how the bullies reacted. Their threats, intimidation, and pressure grew worse. During P. E. the next day, the bullies told me I’d pay for my dad’s calls.
Somehow, I kept my faith and prayed for God’s protection through all that. I trusted God’s promise in Isaiah 41:10: “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (ESV). I surrounded myself with other believers and found support. I was never physically harmed, but I was emotionally scarred.
Being bullied was humiliating and embarrassing. Admittedly, I’ve struggled with resentment toward those bullies and wanted to get revenge over the years. It took a long time for me to forgive them and overcome my fear and anger. These traumatic episodes molded me at a very early age and had a lasting impact. On one side, they taught me to trust God and persevere. On the other side, I learned how to hide my faith from others as a form of self-protection.
Eventually, I grew out of the five-foot-two frame into a six-foot-one frame. I matured physically, emotionally, and spiritually. My confidence grew more potent, and bullies no longer intimidated me. I stick up for myself. But when I sense someone is trying to threaten me or someone else, I have a visceral reaction (i.e., hair standing up on the back of my neck) that motivates me to fight back – stand up for myself and others. This isn’t always good. At times, I can become the aggressor. I’m still a work in progress. God continues shaping me – healing the wounds from long ago, building my faith in him, and moderating my reaction to bullies. He’s not done with me yet, but I know that he’ll finish what he started.
Statistics show that 20% of children ages 12 to 18 years old experience some type of bullying – unwanted aggressive behavior meant to hurt. Bullying comes in several forms (verbal, social, and physical) and typically occurs in a few locations (school or online).
How do you prevent bullying? It can be complex. But based on my experience, I recommend the following seven ways:
- Keep the faith – I ran to God and sought his help in my time of need. He heard my cries and protected me. My faith in him grew more profound because of my experience, and he continues to mend me today.
- Speak up – If you’re the one being bullied, tell a trusted adult or authority. Don’t be embarrassed. Ask for help. It took me a long time to muster the courage to admit I was being bullied. Ultimately, I told my parents and teachers. My experience may not have lasted as long or been as acute if I’d confided in someone earlier.
- Surround yourself – seek support, safety, and solace with your friends and family. I leaned into my church youth group and will never forget their encouragement.
- Stick up for yourself – Sometimes, you need to dig deep inside and find the courage to overcome your fear. Let the bully know you’re not going to take it anymore. I’m not condoning violence. I am condoning a deep resolve that prevents anyone from unwanted aggressive behavior. Tell the bully to stop.
- Be someone’s hero – Don’t stand on the sidelines if you see someone being bullied. Intervene, stick up for the bullied person; if you see something, say something. I wished I had more heroes willing to stand up for me. Now, I try to be that hero in someone’s life that I didn’t have.
- Build awareness and a culture of safety – Teachers, administrators, parents, and students can all play a role in bully prevention. Educate everyone on what bullying is and what it isn’t. Teach respect, dignity, and what to do if bullying is occurring. Learn to listen. Be empathetic. Protect others.
- Forgive and forget – It took a long time for me to resolve my feelings of anger and resentment. I learned that it’s not good to hang on to grudges. If you do, you’ll become bitter. The path to becoming better is through forgiveness and forgetting the circumstances – move on.
To learn more about bullying, its effects, and how to prevent it, visit: https://www.stopbullying.gov.
Have you ever been bullied? What was your experience? Please send me a note to email@example.com and continue the conversation.
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“Hi Preston, I’m interested in taking on your project and representing you.”
Those are the exhilarating words I’d longed to hear. But the journey to that shining moment was trying. You see, a few months ago, my former agent stepped away from the literary agency and publishing world. He dropped me like a hot potato.
Seeking new representation, I sent out several agency inquiries with no response. I began thinking I was running out of options to publish my book traditionally. I felt broken, rejected, and disheartened. I’d worked on Discipled Leader (DL) for ten years and began to question God. Here’s what I wrote in my journal last month:
I’m depressed. I feel it in my bones. So much to do but little enthusiasm. I’m experiencing the “Black Dog,” as Winston Churchill called it. Why? I’m struggling with DL. Should I keep on or move on? Am I wasting my time? I keep telling myself that God gave me the message, the calling to write. Not so sure. Maybe it’s all in my head.
So, what does life look like if I stop pursuing DL? Why did I start in the first place? I feel alone on this journey. God’s been quiet and seems absent. I lashed out at God a couple of days ago and told him how frustrated I am. First honest comments in a while. Not sure how he takes me.
I don’t want to shrink back, but I feel like I’m losing my vision, my vigor. I don’t want to retire and live a secluded life. I want to answer God’s call to make disciples. Somehow, someway. I want to be found faithful with the time, talents, and resources he’s given me. I must be in the “messy middle,” the “now and not yet.”
Just stop? No more blogging, no more speaking, no more platform building? Oh Lord, this will require your intervention for it to succeed. But what does success look like? Helping someone grow in Christ and become a positive influence in their world. It’s not about a creed or a cause. It’s about Christ. It’s all about him. It’s not about me.
If I self-publish the book, then what? Sell a few copies, then what? I can say I’m a published author. Big deal. Is it about my resume? Or is it about discipling people? What’s my vision? Is it bigger than just publishing a book? Is it about helping people reach their potential in Christ? DL’s content provides a framework for Christians to connect their spiritual and secular lives. Christ works in them and through them, changing them and changing the world around them.
I believe Jesus transforms our lives and transformed lives transform cultures. No specific cause. It’s about stemming the tide of evil in today’s society. Healing relationships, families, being a positive force in our businesses, schools, communities, and churches.
I get all of this, but I feel like a fish swimming upstream — only one man. Lord, I can’t do this on my own. I’m fearful of success. I have many self-limiting beliefs. I propose, but you dispose. You engineer all circumstances. You work all things for the good of those who love you. May you receive the credit, the glory, the praise. I crave affirmation, but I pray my affirmation comes from you, not the world.
Lord, if you’re listening this morning, at 5:56 am, would you please fill me, lift my spirits, allow me to walk with you, to hear from you, to be in your presence. I seek you. I need you. Please.
That day, encouragement began coming out of the blue. I received affirming emails and texts from friends who didn’t know I struggled.
Then, Jay called.
Jay’s a business associate who’d read some of my blogs. He asked me about the content, why I wrote them and then shared that he was also a believer. He told me that he struggled with being a Christian in the workplace and found value in what I wrote. He felt encouraged by the messages.
I thanked him for his comments and then told him about my recent setback. I shared with him that God seemed very quiet and had abandoned me. I wasn’t sure that I wanted to continue pursuing my dream.
Jay said, “God is often quiet when he’s already told us what to do. Be obedient to his calling. It will happen in his timing. And know that God hasn’t abandoned you. He will finish what he started. I think the world needs to hear what you have to say.”
I hung up the phone and cried in my office. I got on my knees and thanked God for his encouragement through others. I was inspired, determined not to give up.
About a week later, I was sitting at my desk, working away, when the phone rang. The caller ID said “Lancaster, CA.” I figured it was another robocall, and I shouldn’t answer. But, for some reason, I picked up the phone, and on the other end was Steve, a literary agent.
He said, “Hi Preston, I’m interested in taking on your project and representing you.”
Steve and I talked about DL’s platform and my vision for the book. After our conversation, he said he’d call in a few days.
Well, a few days passed, and I got anxious. I figured, “what the heck,” so I called him. Steve answered the phone and said he’d like to represent me. I thanked him, and as we hung up the phone, I began jumping for joy.
The dream is alive, and I can’t be more grateful.
The journey to find another agent was wearisome. I doubted God and was honest with him. He heard my cry, and when I was just about to give up, he responded beyond my imagination. I am so thankful for the opportunity and the journey to date.
Speaking of the journey, here are three powerful lessons I’ve learned during my recent circumstances…
The Power of Prayer. Prayer is powerful because of the one we pray to. I continue relearning this, and that I need to constantly bring my worries, doubts, and fears to God. When I express my concerns, share what’s on my heart, and am honest with God, he hears me and fills me with peace. The Bible says, “Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.” (Philippians 4:6–7 The Message).
The Power of Patience. Waiting is hard. It takes patience. There is an old maxim, “patience is a virtue, which all admire, but few attain.”  But the Bible says, “He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted, but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:29–31 English Standard Version) I learned that if I wait on God and am patient, he’ll strengthen me in trying times.
The Power of Encouragement. Congressman George M. Adams once said encouragement is “oxygen to the soul.” So true! Encouragement provides energy and enthusiasm. It builds others up and helps them overcome adversity. Mark Twain wrote, “I can live two months on a good compliment.” The Bible says, “Gracious speech is like clover honey— good taste to the soul, quick energy for the body. “(Proverbs 16.24 The Message). Positive, uplifting words matter and make a difference. God encouraged me through others. I found hope and was inspired to keep on working toward my dream.
If you’re struggling to realize your dream and feel like giving up, I charge you to seek God and tap into the power of prayer, patience, and encouragement. If you do, you’ll find peace, strength, and hope to keep going.
Want to discover how to level up your leadership skills and become someone others will gladly follow? Visit my website, prestonpoore.com, today!
Carpenter, E. E., & Comfort, P. W. (2000). In Holman treasury of key Bible words: 200 Greek and 200 Hebrew words defined and explained(p. 357). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.
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Ever had one of those days when you’ve labored for hours with sweat and tears on a project but encountered a significant setback? I did this week. Here’s my story. . .
Last Monday, I led a conference call and briefly looked at my phone to check emails. One of the subject lines caught my attention, “Changes at Tenet.” I immediately opened the email and read the grim news, “Unfortunately, this means that the representation agreement between you and our agency will be terminated “… .Ugh.
I began writing Discipled Leader in 2010. I’ve invested countless hours in Discipled Leader because I believe its message is critical in today’s world. I ask the question, “How does one connect his or her secular and spiritual life in their business, community, or school and become stronger leaders?” I believe we become better leaders through knowing and following Jesus; through discipleship.
Since I began writing, I collaborated with two editors to complete a 10-chapter, 67,000-word manuscript. I attended a writer’s conference, began writing a bi-weekly blog, trained people, attended platform-building courses, and employed a digital marketing firm to build awareness. I even secured book endorsements from Dan Cathy, CEO of Chick-fil-A, Chris Robinson, Executive VP of the John Maxwell Team, and Bryant Wright, Lead Pastor of Atlanta’s Johnson Ferry Baptist Church.
But my most significant milestone was signing with a literary agency, Tenet. My agent was Waldo. I’ll never forget Waldo’s call to me last April. Tenet would sign me after a long consideration period and represent Discipled Leader to publishers. It seemed a lifelong dream was coming true.
The challenge is I rarely ever heard from Waldo. I’d send emails, leave voicemails, and send texts with little or no response. When I did hear from him, I’d ask about his strategy and approach. I never received specifics other than he’d sent my book proposal to top publishers and was awaiting email responses. He only told me that silence in the publishing industry is a good thing, and the process may take 18 to 24 months to find a publisher. Not very assuring, but I decided to trust him.
I’ve also been praying diligently for God’s help. Author and Pastor Andy Stanley says that a God-given vision requires God’s intervention. Meaning, if God gave you an idea or dream, he will make it come true. I’ve been talking to God about the vision he gave me and seeking his help to get the book into the hands of people that need to read it.
That’s why the email subject line caught my attention last week; “Changes at Tenet”. . .
Good morning, Preston:
I am writing today to let you know that due to some health struggles, I have made the difficult decision to step away from agenting, effective immediately. Tenet will not be replacing me at any point in the near future. Unfortunately, this means that the representation agreement between you and Tenet will be terminated – you should expect to receive a termination letter from Tenet’s president in the next week or so.
You are free to seek new representation immediately. If you need any guidance in this area, feel free to reach out. My Tenet email will be online through May 1st, but I can also be reached on my personal email…It has been a privilege to work with you, and I’ll be praying for your success!
I reached out to Tenet’s president for reconsideration but to no avail. He said they kept four of Waldo’s agented authors and couldn’t represent me. He wrote:
It [Discipled Leader] is an important topic, and the presentation is well done; your social media is improving steadily, but it is not yet what our publishers would consider successful. It wouldn’t be fair to your next agent to continue down the path we’ve gone, so I’ll be sending out a letter today confirming our decision. A fresh pair of eyes may be just what the project needs to get over the hump.
The funny thing is that I’m at peace with it. I truly believe that God engineers all circumstances, and this setback is just part of the journey. While my search for a new agent begins again, I’ve made the decision not to become bitter or quit. I will press on. Why? Because I believe Discipled Leader’s message is essential. It helps people become better leaders by growing closer to Jesus and becoming his disciples. There is no higher call than that.
This isn’t the first time I’ve experienced rejection. How about you? Have you heard anything like that?
- We like your work and skill set, but we’ve decided to go in a different direction.
- We regret to inform you that you’ve not been accepted.
- I’m afraid we have to pass on your proposal.
We all will experience some form or fashion of rejection during our lifetimes. The question is, how do we handle rejection? Here’s what I’ve learned . . .
It Hurts: I wish I could tell you that the news I received didn’t affect me. It was tough reading Waldo’s email in the middle of a meeting and trying to stay focused. I was angry, frustrated, and deeply disappointed all simultaneously. I said a brief prayer to God and sought his help. I said, “Lord, if this is a vision you gave me, please intervene and make a way for this dream to come true.” Over a short period, I processed my emotions and decided not to be a victim. I shifted my thoughts and silenced my inner critic. I pivoted from doubting to believing and remembered that the rejection didn’t define me.
Remember Why: I wrote Discipled Leader to help others become better leaders through discipleship. I’ve seen God use the message and content to make a positive difference in many lives. The book and platform are my calling. I want to glorify God and make him know. That’s my “why.” A little rejection won’t deter me from my calling or mission.
Keep Going: Rejection can be considered a setback, an obstacle, delay, or circumstance that prevents you from advancing. However, the key is to persevere, not give up, and take risks. I take comfort from the list of famous books rejected multiple times by editors, agents, and publishers, including Gone with the Wind, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Moby Dick, The Wizard of Oz, and Chicken Soup for the Soul. Recognize any of them? I know if I keep going, something good will happen, God willing.
I’m very encouraged by what the future may hold. I remain steadfast in my mission.
When you encounter rejection or other setbacks, I hope you will acknowledge that it hurts, remember your why, and keep going. If you do, you’ll be on the road to achieving your dream.
Want to learn how to uplevel your leadership skills? Visit my website, prestonpoore.com, today!
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I’m a disciple of Christ and an executive at a Fortune 500 Company. In my blog, The Discipled Leader, I draw on my diverse business experience to help Christians connect their secular and spiritual lives at work.
As a certified coach, speaker, and trainer with the John Maxwell Team, I help others grow their relationship with Christ, develop their leadership skills, and understand how they can make a positive difference in today’s chaotic world.
Let me help you reach your potential.
I draw on my diverse business experience to help Christians connect their secular and spiritual lives at work. I invite you to subscribe to my blog and learn how to develop Christlike character, influence your culture and change your world.