Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Building a Community or Gossip?

By: Jenifer Metzger

"Did you hear what she said/did?"

"I probably shouldn't say anything, but..."

"I'm only tell you so you can pray."

You've probably heard these phrases right before someone launches into a story you probably shouldn't hear. Dare I say, maybe you've even said these phrases.

Building a Community or Gossip? #w2wministries #gossip #community #friendship

While gossip is often done from a malicious place, purposely trying to slander another, it is often disguised as community. We truly believe we are sharing from the goodness of our heart. We gather with friends, we go out for Sunday lunch after church, we meet together for coffee, or just text back and forth. Our conversations start off innocent enough. We chat about our children, the weather, plans for an upcoming vacation, or share a favorite recipe.

Then it happens. We decide to confide in each other, maybe even just look to fill a gap in conversation. Before we know it, we are sharing someone else's story. A story we have no business repeating. Maybe it was something that was told to us in confidence so we "share it in confidence." Maybe it was just something we heard and we need to get off our chest. Or maybe we want them to "join us in prayer" so we share.

If you claim to be religious but don’t
control your tongue, you are fooling
yourself, and your religion is worthless.
James 1:26

Gossip doesn't grow a relationship. Instead, it is like a weed choking out what could be. This includes gossip we believe is simply growing our community, sharing in love, or sharing for prayer. The Bible tells us to control our tongue. It even tells us to avoid chatterers.

A gossip goes around telling secrets,
so don’t hang around with chatterers.
Proverbs 20:19

How to recognize gossip

Whether you are the one sharing or the one listening, ask yourself these questions:
Does this conversation lift up or put down another?
Am I sharing with permission or out of turn?
Do I really need to share/hear these details in order to pray for this person? (Hint: the answer here is always no! We can pray for another without having the details of their circumstances because God already knows the details!)

How to stop gossip

If you are the one sharing and realize that what you are sharing is gossip, pause and simply say, "I realize I am not sharing this with permission" and steer the conversation elsewhere. If you are the one listening and realize the sharer is gossiping, simply say, "I am sorry to interrupt but I do not need to know these details" and steer the conversation away.

How to avoid gossip

Whether you struggle with sharing or hearing gossip, pray and ask God for help. Before conversing with another, purpose in your mind that you will not share or listen to anything that is not yours to share. Think of a few conversation starters you can use when there is a lull in conversation, this will help from trying to fill the void. And always make sure your words of others are positive and full of praise.

When we avoid gossip and speak positively of others, we can build a true community. Let's be women who build our community of friends without the weeds of gossip.

1. Do you struggle with sharing or listening to gossip, even if unintentionally?
2. What are ways you avoid sharing or listening to gossip?

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