Follow the Leader: 7 Principles from Jesus on How to Handle Personal Attacks

An unfortunate but occasional part of life is being personally attacked by others. Personal attacks come in many forms: sarcasm, gossip, complaints, criticism and confrontation. They also come from many sources: coworkers, neighbors, friends, family and even from people we don’t know. What do you do when attacked? The options range from fight to flight and a million options in between. If I were to ask you how effective your strategy is my guess would be you’d say, “You win some, you lose some.”

Wouldn’t it be great if you had a plan for what to do the next time you’re attacked, good solid principles to help you through it? I believe we have just such a plan from when Jesus was attacked. Personal attacks were something Jesus experienced on several occasions.

Walk towards a cross - follow the leader Jesus

Let’s look at when he was attacked by Satan to learn seven principles of how to handle personal attacks.

The story is found in Matthew 4:1-11. Jesus had just spent 40 days in prayer and fasting. Satan attacked Him directly three times.

  • He attacked part of Jesus’ plan, suggesting he give up the “human” thing and use His powers as God to satisfy his hunger Matthew 4:3.
  • He attacked Jesus’ confidence that God would protect Him Matthew 4:5-6.
  • He attacked another part of Jesus’ plan, suggesting he give it up for an easier way Matthew 4:8-9.

7 Principles from Jesus on How to Handle Personal Attacks

Here are seven principles we can learn from how Jesus handled this attack.

  1. Engage your attacker. As the Son of God Jesus could have dismissed Satan outright. Bosses sometimes do that. Anyone can do that by refusing to talk. That doesn’t make the problem go away, just the person.
  2. Listen. If you just got blasted it’s hard to listen and you don’t want to. But you must. Do what Jesus did; show the person respect by listening.
  3. Focus on the facts. There are usually secondary issues, implied attacks on your motives or judgment. Deal with the matter at hand. Jesus stuck to the facts.
  4. Give a reasoned response. Jesus gave reasons for His actions. If you don’t have good reasons, rethink your position. Jesus didn’t need to.
  5. Stand your ground. Based upon the facts Jesus was right. (I know, He was always right!) He didn’t give in to keep the peace. He didn’t compromise. If the facts are certain, stand firm.
  6. React calmly. Satan kept attacking, but Jesus kept His cool. He never disrespected Satan. It would have been easy to do so.
  7. End the attack. We want it to end well and many times it will. However, when you’re sure it’s not a conversation just an attack, end it. No good will come out of it.

I need to add, before you respond, pray. Jesus was prayed up when the attack hit. It’s critical we rest in God’s power or we won’t be able to do what Jesus did.

p.s. This is how Jesus handled the most vicious creature in heaven and earth. As bad as you think he is, your attacker pales in comparison.

How have you used some of these principles when you’ve been attacked? Please leave a comment or question below.