Anti-bullying week has begun with a flurry of articles and the focus this time around seems to be on cyber-bullying. When I was at school, the only exposure to cyber-things were those occasionally scary episodes of Doctor Who with the evil automatons. But such is the pace of change that our children’s playground has become a virtual world where many things are not quite what they appear to be. Not only that but ridicule, systematic undermining and abuse are able to be carried out at arms length. This means the bully is unaware of the extent of damage caused- and they may go much further in their efforts to create a reaction than if they saw the effects of their actions in the eyes of their victims. With over 60% of children affected, this is everybody’s problem.
Over the weekend, I was privileged to be in a crowd of 2,000 men worshipping God and being challenged from his word at the Mandate in Belfast. Jeff Lucas taught from 1 Kings on events in the life of Elijah, who was not popular and exhibited depressive tendencies. It was an inspiring time that touched the lives of many with laughter and tears in great abundance. What sticks with me, though, were his words about men and kindness. With a gentle challenge to those who use men’s ministry to forward a macho agenda, he reminded us how kind the prophet was to the widow and her son. Kindness is a fruit of the spirit, it is not a sign of male weakness or the feminisation of the church. Rather, it demonstrates the compassion of God and the selflessness of His followers. Men, we need to rediscover our security in Christ so that we can show his kindness to a world featuring the bully and the bullied. We have a mandate to mentor our sons, their friends and any others who listen to us that kindness is genuinely prophetic- it points the receiver to look afresh at God. It is not accommodation to the political correctness of the day; it is a sign of the Spirit at work in our lives.