Whisper, Whisper, Talk. Just Stop.

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I read a post by Jon Acuff the other day that I really liked. If you’re interested, here’s the link:

http://www.jonacuff.com/stuffchristianslike/2012/08/when-people-name-drop-god-in-order-to-make-you-do-something/

So after reading Acuff’s advice on what to do when people name drop God to get me to do something, I found myself wishing someone would write about what to do when people use prayer as an excuse to talk about others. Or rather, and more encompassing, what to do when that oh so delectable morsel known as gossip is laid before you.

See, no matter who the cook is, I believe we’re told to firmly decline that tempting first taste. After all, we’re not just talking about calories, we’re talking about ruined reputations and, for the most part, innocent people, here.

Then I figured, if I’m honest, I’d have to admit I have had enough experience with gossip—both by being the offender and the offended. So I decided to give it a shot. After all, I’m thinking, I should write {again} about this minor thorn in my side. It’s very personal, which could help me drum up some fire and brimstone with it.

It really should be a longer list. People serve up gossip in different ways. But I’ll stick with the few below, especially since I could say “been there, done that” to them…

 

Take 1: Parry

Gossip: Did you know…

I wish I said this to every version of that question I have ever heard: “No, and I don’t need to know.” Cause really, I don’t. Unless I allow curiosity to get the better of me, and then suddenly I do. Then I’m stuck. What do I do with the juicy information after? Pray about it? Good luck convincing God (and myself) I only  listened out of concern.

 

Take 2: Deflect

Gossip: You weren’t at prayer meeting. We talked about so-and-so. I’m only telling you so you can help us pray.

It took some time, but I’ve learned to respond with a: “I wasn’t there, so I might not need to know that. How can I pray for you instead?” After all these years, I can’t count on my fingers the many “confidential” requests leaked out because someone thought it was their/our right to pass these on to others. Yea, they/we never had the right, and they/we will never be right.

 

Take 3: Expose

Gossip: Have you heard? So-and-so has a problem and I thought you might know how to help…

The best time to interrupt is at the beginning. Say something like: “I’ll talk to them about it and let them know you brought it up with me.” This way I’m choosing to give the person the benefit of the doubt and letting them know I believe they are speaking out of concern. Which probably isn’t the case and I’d know that when my words are met with a panicky look.

 

Take 4: Reject

Gossip: Did you hear what happened?

You know what you should say: “No. And I’ll wait to hear from those involved.”

Fact is, no matter who my source is, if I wasn’t there, I don’t know anything. No matter how many versions of the event I did hear. Think about this—most of the stories floating around after Jesus’ death were not even close to the truth. Only one version was, and it was that version that was rejected the most.

 

Finally, recognize a gossip’s words for what they are, and recognize what you will be if you listen to them. This is what got to me. The easiest thing to do in the world is to pass on something you heard from someone else, even with the realization it could end up hurting someone. The hardest thing to do is to repair the damage after. And even though the truth will eventually come out, you probably won’t be on the side of it when it does.

So just stop. A gossip loses steam when enough people block the railroad. Be a roadblock, not a wooden plank.

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