Monday, April 28, 2008

Prayer Chains

"The words of a gossip are like choice morsels;
they go down to a man's inmost parts."
-Proverbs 18:8

I found this latest postcard sent into postsecret refreshingly authentic and yet quite sad at the same time. I hate gossip - I hate when others do it and I hate when I do it. I don't know if there is anything that can poison a church or relationship faster and more severely. In some ways it is the ultimate betrayal. Unchecked it will absolutely kill the morale of any good organization. Come on Christians; admit your guilt, ask others to keep you accountable, and speak up when you hear someone doing it. No one likes to be confronted with the fact that they are gossiping, but if you love someone you'll tell them . . .

May light increase!


Dayna said...

speaking up when you hear someone else is doing it is sooo hard. why? because what they are saying is often very interesting and my flesh really doesn't want them to stop! however, i have been really convicted of this. first of my own words (although i am far from where i want to be)... confronting others is the next step, i guess...

Stacey said...

After I read your post I had my thoughts together and clicked on the comments to leave one and I see Dayna almost completely took the words out of my mouth! I will often avoid confrontation at any cost. From my experiences, nothing good comes out of confrontation. I'm always afraid that suddenly I will be in the hot seat! A wimpy attitude I know. It's taken me a lifetime to speak up for myself too. But I hate gossip when I hear it and I hate myself when I have been guilty of it. Yuck. Often I will take the "easy" way out when I hear something and my 'way' of standing up for a person is often to say something positive about them to counteract the gossip--instead I need to get a backbone and just confront the issue.

Having said that, I have a lot less gossip in my life since I've moved here and rarely deal with it anymore. In the place I used to live it was like a viral disease.

Mark said...

Dayna, speaking up is terribly hard to do. I find though that when it has been done to me I am initially annoyed but later glad that they did. As one of my mentors would say "Do you love them enough to confront them?
Stacey, I have been thinking about gossip and small towns for about a week now. It all started with me listening to a radio program where a man was interviewed who had moved his family to a small town. He loved living in the country but he was shocked by the amount of gossip, racism, and pettiness that he found out there. When people called into the show they all shared stories that seemed to underline the first one: Gossip is worse in small towns! I'm not sure if it worse or if when you know people better (as it often the case in a small town) the gossip just stands out more. For myself, I must admit that when we moved to Mennville the gossip there was more bountiful then ever I had experienced before. People actually told us in our first church care group there that they were afraid to share anything personal because it wouldn't stay with the group. I though at that time that they were incredibly paranoid - later I understood that they were right! I had an elder of the church whom I confronted about gossiping tell me to my face that there was no way they couldn't gossip! It's a nasty habit in small towns, one that should be reframed as "sin."

I have found that when I confront people about it, the best approach is "Can I stop you there? I'm feeling uncomfortable talking about this person/persons behind their back. It feels like gossip to me. I don't know if they'd be comfortable with knowing we were talking about this. Is that OK?" Often people will get a bit testy and defensive over this but agree to change the conversation.

The thing about gossipers is that we don't realize that we are actually causing the listener to distrust us. After all, if we are so open with someone else's personal stuff, what's stopping us from doing the same to you? If you really are interested in people's lives, don't betray them. You'll become known as someone others can trust with their "stuff."

Anonymous said...

Sometimes I find it hard to know whats gossip and what isn't.For example,is it gossip when we talk about people but don't use their names?(in a small town you can't get away with it because people can figure out who it is)Or is it gossip when we talk about organizations or communities? Is it gossip when we use other's situations,even anonymously,in teaching situations?

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I forgot to enter my name! Terry

Mark said...

Terry! Good to hear from you my usually lurking friend! A very good question; I think I will answer it in my post tomorrow (as well as your other ones) if that is OK. Feel free to respond if you agree or not.

Anonymous said...

Hi Mark;
Periodically, I review your blog; somewhat to keep up with "what the Westman's are up to". You might remember me, as I'm from that "Mennville Place". We still miss you guys---your "insites", Jobina's singing, etc,etc.
A lot of interesting posts/comments on your blog. Keep up the good work!!
Under the "gossip issue", this discussion has often generated more heat than light. Some people would be of the opinion that parents can't talk about their kids without them present, or also at places like parent/teacher's mtgs, etc. etc. There must be some balance on this matter. I believe it can be taken to "way overboard", similar to the "privacy legislation" in our business world!!! (some of you may know what I'm talking about)
However, a question of curiosity. When you denigrate an entire community, how is this "not gossip"?? What would readers conclude from those comments? I've lived close to that area for many years and have concluded the people are actually "quite wonderful". Not really a "bad place to be" in my opinion.
Anyway, I thot I could ask this because, as you say, "if you love someone, you'll tell them..."


PS. Enjoy your south holidays !