My friend, Maralee McKee, the Manner's Mentor, posted about gossip today. She said, "About to say something about someone who isn't in the room? Just to be on the safe (gracious) side, ask yourself two questions first.
- Is what I'm going to say positive? If so, go right ahead!
- If it's not positive, am I saying it to protect others from harm this person might cause them or those close to them? Does it protect the people I'm going to tell in any way? If not, then do they really need to be in the know about it-probably not.
The questions are a good litmus test to help us know if our words are beneficial or gossip."
Maralee is absolutely correct. You must be aware and on-guard against gossip, because if you are not, you put your ministry, and people, at risk. Consider the following -
- When you and/or a group of people are talking about someone else and are sharing private information which the person has NOT given permission for you to share . . . it is gossip. Period.
- While sometimes gossip might be the truth, most often it is not . . . or at least it is less than accurate. When we say things which are flat untrue, or at least inaccurate, we cause damage to others.
- Trying to "cover" gossip by calling it, "sharing prayer requests" or worse, by leaders in a church who "cover" their gossip by calling it, "getting on the same page" or "determining our response", is still gossip and it causes damage to others.
Gossip destroys your ministry because it makes it an unsafe place. How can people trust your ministry if you, other volunteers and/or church leaders gossip? The answer is, they can not. Commit to the following when it comes to gossip . . .
- Have a "Zero Tolerance" for gossip. Period. If you have a concern about someone, follow the Bible and go to them yourself. If this does not work, then take one or two trusted individuals with you to talk to them again. If this still does not work, involve your church leaders.
- If you hear others gossiping. Ask them to stop and walk away. Do not stay and listen - or worse, join in the gossip.
- Where gossip has happened, deal with it. Hold those who gossiped accountable and go to the person who has been gossiped about and ask them for forgiveness. Work to rebuild the relationship.