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5 Strategies for Dealing with a ‘Spiritual Super-Pest’

  • Joel Ryan Contributing Writer
  • Published Jul 25, 2019
5 Strategies for Dealing with a ‘Spiritual Super-Pest’

In team sports, there are many different types of players. Superstars, defenders, veterans, rookies, leaders. Regardless of their talent or position, each player on a team has a role to play and the ability to impact the game in their own way. People love a great sports story, and professional athletes can become heroes for the achievements and heroics in a game.

But in every sport, there is a different kind of player who can be just as impactful and far more notorious.

This player is often seen as the villain. He is a master of mischief and the one fans love to hate and other players hate having to play against. He may not be as talented as a Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant, but he is just as effective at what he does, which is getting under people’s skin, getting into opponent’ heads, and starting drama.

He drives people crazy, plays dirty, and isn’t afraid to cross the line just to irritate or infuriate the other team and its fanbase.

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Who is he?

Who is he?

He is the 'super-pest,' agitator, and instigator of professional sports, and he lives up to reputation.

In sports, agitators, instigators, and super-pests are a unique type of role player. They make it their mission to get the other team’s players off their game. They will trash talk, cheap shot, and otherwise annoy the heck out of the other team, agitating its players until they lose focus or are forced to retaliate.

When this happens, the super-pest has done his job and won a small, sometimes significant, victory.

When it comes to our faith, Christians must also contend with a spiritual super-pest on a daily basis. Similar to an agitator in sports, Satan has made it his mission to distract and disrupt Christians from serving God and following His commands.

He will trash talk, cheap shot, and otherwise play dirty to get into our heads and pull us away from God; and He, too, is relentless.

If I’ve learned anything from sports, it’s that good players must develop a strategy for dealing with an infamous pugilist or super-pest. Most techniques involve patience, persistence, and preparation; but above all, mental focus.

The same is true in our battle with the devil, the ultimate spiritual super-pest. Here, then, are 5 strategies for dealing with a spiritual super-pest:

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1. Know Your Enemy

1. Know Your Enemy

A great team will study its opponent before each game, identifying their strengths, weaknesses, and tendencies ahead of time. If a team knows it’s going into a game with a notorious instigator on the other side, the coach will prepare his players and remind them to be on the lookout.

Knowing what to expect from your enemy helps you prepare you for battle. Thankfully, Scripture tells us everything you need to know about your opponent so that you can prepare ahead of time and never be caught off guard.

  • “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8).
  • “But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 11:3).
  • “…He (Satan) was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44).
  • “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you.” (1 Peter 4:12)

Satan has a reputation:

  • He uses temptation to steer hearts and minds away from God.
  • He makes false promises.
  • He distracts, discourages, and torments believers to the point of defeat.
  • He seeks out those he can destroy.
  • He attacks where we are weak.
  • He is patient and purposeful.
  • He doesn’t announce himself as a pest.
  • He doesn’t go down without a fight. 

Knowing this, the initial strategy for dealing with a spiritual super-pest is straightforward: be prepared.

Know your enemy, learn his tricks, and get ready for battle ahead of time and you won’t be surprised. 

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2. Resist

2. Resist

In hockey, a sport where the role of the agitator is still prominent, a pest will often try and annoy the other team’s top scorer to distract and discourage them during the game. If an instigator can goad a star player into retaliation, they may succeed in getting that player penalized and out of the game for a significant amount of time. Having the other team’s star player out of the game, where they can’t make an impact, is definitely a win!

Ask yourself: are you a threat to Satan?

Does he stand to lose ground in the world because of your ministry, your actions, and your relationship with God?

Guess what, if you are faithfully serving the Lord, ministering to others, and ushering in the kingdom of God the answer is YES! You are a threat, which means you’ve become a target. So get ready. Satan will do just about anything to take you out of the game so you can’t disrupt his plans or threaten his kingdom.

As aggravating as a trash talker or spiritual super-pest may be, you must learn to resist and stay focused on the task God has set for you.

“Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7)

We also know from Scripture that we have been given tools and spiritual armor for this cause. As Paul wrote to the Ephesians, “put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.” (Ephesians 6:11)

In many sports, athletes wear padding to protect themselves from recurring hits in the game. As spiritual athletes, the stronger our armor is, the more protected we are from the devil’s attacks and the longer we will be able to resist his assault on our lives.

As it says in 2 Corinthians, “we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9).

Practicing our faith, affirming our salvation, standing in God’s truth, promoting peace, and pursuing righteousness are all pieces of armor we have to resist the enemy’s attack.

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3. Run

3. Run

In the book of Genesis, Joseph famously ran from his boss’ wife after she tried to seduce him to sleep with her. Joseph resisted temptation by removing himself from it entirely (Genesis 39).

Sometimes the best strategy is to get as far away from temptation and the tempter as possible.

I’ve seen many instances in sports where an agitator will attack another player’s ego, impatience, or nagging injury. Remember, the enemy strikes where he knows we are weakest.

The pros know how foolish it is to become entangled in a physical or verbal battle with a super pest. They’re only playing into their opponent’s hands and know they must run or skate away.

Sometimes, you must do the same.

What are your areas of weaknesses? What areas does the enemy know he can strike that will turn you away from God? Run away!  

“Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned?” (Proverbs 6:27).

Sometimes the biggest distractions in life come from needless battles and quarrels with other people. Remembering that our fight is a spiritual battle not of flesh and blood helps us recognize where the enemy might be trying to distract us from doing what matters most.

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4. Recite God’s Playbook

4. Recite God’s Playbook

During His temptation, Jesus recited Scripture to stand firm in the truth and resist Satan’s attacks (Matthew 4:10).

The ironic thing is, Satan knows Scripture, too, and he is more than willing to misquote and misuse it to lead us astray. Knowing what is true and holding to the promises in God’s Word is the ultimate weapon we have against Satan in the battle of the mind (Psalms 119:11). 

As it says in Philippians, “finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:8-9).

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5. Call in a Spiritual Enforcer

5. Call in a Spiritual Enforcer

The last strategy for dealing with a spiritual super-pest is to recognize your true power, which ultimately comes through Jesus Christ.

  • “Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil.” (Hebrews 2:14)
  • And He said to them, “I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing will injure you.” (Luke 10:17-19).

There is enormous power in the name of Jesus, and when it comes to your battle, you have the ultimate teammate in the Son of God in the game with you.

Sometimes, all you need to do is call in your spiritual enforcer to deal with the enemy and beat him back. It’s not by your might or power that Satan is defeated, but by the power of Jesus Christ, who conquered the grave (2 Timothy 2:10) and who lives in you (Zechariah 4:6).

Satan’s motivation is simple and his techniques effective, but in the fight for our souls and battle of the mind, God’s strategies for dealing with an annoying and relentless spiritual super-pest are far more powerful and effective. Employ them, and you will see victory in your life this year.

Joel Ryan is an LA-based children’s and young adult author who teaches writing and communications at Life Pacific University. As a former youth pastor, he has a heart for young adults and is passionate about engaging youth through film, literature, and theater. His blog, Perspectives Off the Page, discusses the creative and spiritual life through story and art.

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