Happy Bullies

It’s one study so take it with a pinch of salt, but this research says that bullies are generally happy with themselves

“Researchers at Simon Fraser University surveyed a group of Vancouver high school students and found bullies were the least likely to be depressed, had the highest self-esteem and the greatest social status.”

This is worth noting for two reasons. First, this again shows the emptiness of the self-esteem movement. “If only these bullies thought more highly of themselves then they wouldn’t bully” is not the direction this research is pointing to.

Second, this reminds us that there are many unhelpful ways of talking to your young people who are being bullied. Here are gospel-less ways to counsel your young people: “you’re better than the bully”. Maybe, maybe not. But the bully is still feeling happier than the bullied. As well as being a dangerous place to make a stand, a moral high-ground doesn’t offer any really comfort. “The bully is really unhappy deep down”. Maybe, but according to this they’re not as unhappy as the person they’re bullying.

What do you say instead? To start, recognise this is a biblical concern; see for example Habbakuk 1:1-3 (“For the wicked surround the righteous; so justice goes forth perverted. v.3”) or a large number of Psalms (3, 4, 5, 10, 37). Why do those acting sinfully seem to not only get away from it, but profit from it? This is a good and proper question to ask.

Some of the answer to this can be found in Psalm 37.

Fret not yourself because of evildoers;
be not envious of wrongdoers!
For they will soon fade like the grass
and wither like the green herb.
Trust in the Lord, and do good;
dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. (v. 1-3)

Why shouldn’t you fret even though evildoers are succeeding? Why shouldn’t you be envious of those doing wrong? Because soon, they’ll fade like the grass. Their brief success is just a temporary thing. The Lord does not forget their deeds, but is waiting patiently before he judges them. But those who trust in the Lord and obey him instead, they’ll be blessed. “For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land.” (v. 9) Wait patiently for the Lord to take care of you, and the bully will be no more soon enough. Hopefully the Lord’s patience and mercy —and the person’s they are bullying’s witness— will bring them to repentance (Romans 2:4). And if Jesus isn’t judged in their place, then they will have to bear that judgement themselves. Regardless, the Lord will care for his people and bring them safely home.