In my job, I hear far more junk than I care to hear sometimes.
One part of the drama of messiness that always frustrates me is how gossip begins about other people’s problems. As if dealing with the consequences of sin is not enough, many times the hardest repercussion is the gossip that occurs about the people involved and the situation which occurred.
I have been the victim of unfair gossip. I know the pain it can cause. I have never found gossip to be helpful to the people involved or to the Kingdom of God. Gossip has become something I hate, because I have seen it destroy so many people!
Gossip hurts innocent people who are caught in the middle, it exaggerates the situation, and it keeps the one who did wrong loaded with guilt and frustration, and from experiencing the fullness of God’s grace.
(Consider these passages: Proverbs 11:13, Proverbs 16:28, Proverbs 20:19, Proverbs 26:20, Romans 1:29, 2 Corinthians 12:20, 1 Timothy 5:13—the Bible talks a great deal about this issue.)
With this in mind, I’m listing seven suggestions for stopping, or at least slowing, the spread of gossip.
Will you consider each and internalize them—as needed?
If the shoe fits, will you wear it?
Together, perhaps we can help stop the deadly spread of this harmful virus!
Here are seven ways to stop gossip:
Don’t repeat something unless you know it to be true firsthand.
Secondhand knowledge is not enough to justify repeating something. You will get something wrong and it will hurt others. By the way, reading it on Facebook does not make it true.
Don’t repeat unless it is helpful to do so, you have a vested interest and permission.
Never share another person’s story unless you have permission to share or what you’re sharing is equally your story as the other person’s. It is almost always gossip if anything is shared otherwise.
Don’t “confess” other people’s sins.
Unless you are in physical danger—even if the wrong included you and you feel the need to confess—share your story, but not someone else’s. Doing so in the name of a prayer request is not a good excuse.
If you must tell, and have passed the test on the first three suggestions, tell only what happened.
Do not share your commentary on the situation or your “I think this is probably what happened” or why you think it happened. Just the facts—as you know them to be true.
Choose to pray for others every time you are tempted to tell their story.
Instead of telling their story—instead of spreading gossip—pray for them and your willpower not to share anything you shouldn’t.
When someone tells you something you don’t need to know, don’t allow curiosity to be your guide.
Stop the person and tell them you don’t want to know! Remember, if they will spread gossip about others they will spread it about you!
Keep the circle of confession limited to the people involved or to no more than needed for accountability purposes.
Even when it is your story you usually don’t have to tell the world. The wider the circle and the more the story is repeated the more likely things will turn into gossip—and, the more people who will be injured.
If my tone seems intent about the issue it’s because I am. I have little patience for gossips. My desire is to see people live in healthy community together. Gossip is a betrayer of this becoming reality.
Please chime into the discussion to help make my case here. What else would you add?