The Bull In The China Shop


I posted on this blog about not thinking bossy was a bad word here. One of the questions I was asked about was when I used the phrase, Bull In A China Shop, to describe a person who isn’t a boss but tries to act like one. This isn’t some medical term or anything, it’s just what I see in my mind’s eye when I see this character arrive on the scene. Here are their characteristics:

1. They are emotional. Easily angered, which masks their insecurities, they are fueled and run by their emotions. They are the leaders who humiliate to get what they want. One moment you are the star of their team and the next moment you’ve done nothing right. This isn’t leadership from a Christian perspective this is leadership from a fear tactic. From this pool is where you get your tyrants from. Unfortunately, it’s their way or the highway and they do not take input well.

2. They drive people. In ministry you quickly learn that a Shepherd leads their flock they don’t drive it. Human beings are made in the image of God and therefore do not do well when they are controlled as we are not supposed to control others. The God given dominion we were given was over the earth not over each other. When you assume that each person under your care is there to be controlled you create a hostile work environment, one in which the people are tired, afraid of the next blow, and always looking over their shoulder. They will not create anything because in this sphere of authority they never know what the outcome will be. It may be received well or it may be looked on as an attempt to a coup, so they quit trying because the end result is so risky.

And if those two main points aren’t enough, people aren’t happy to be in their presence. They front for the higher ups, but they are one way in the presence of one group and another way in the presence of the next group. Nothing is ever level or real.

It’s not always from a place of evil, although the world has certainly seen their share of evil leaders, most often it’s from a place of ignorance, a place where leadership skills have not been defined and where training has not taken place. It’s foolish but it isn’t always evil. I liken it to the kid who realized that if he throws a fit in the store, his parents quickly give him what he wants so that he’ll behave. The Bull in the China Shop has done the same thing. They have figured out that fits make people move and they stopped there. They realized that it worked and frankly they were too lazy and self involved to get some training in front of some leaders who had cohesive working teams and actual skills of leading. They didn’t read or apply what they learned about leadership.


2 thoughts on “The Bull In The China Shop

  1. I think of a bull in a china shop as being tactless, reckless, thoughtless. A bull will no more appreciate or be able to tip toe lightly around fine china than it’s human counterpart is capable of knowing when to use diplomacy.

    There are plenty of people in the world who have this type of persona though and many of them are leaders simply because they’re not afraid to break a few pieces of china to get the job done..

    In the Christian arena, I don’t know. Seems completely counterproductive.

    1. I so agree with you! In ministry it’s especially horrific as many who come into a ministry are broken, this personality shatters them and sadly we see it again and again. Thanks for reading!

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