Harmful Talk

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Today's reading: 1 Timothy 5:9-16

While Paul's instruction is on taking care of church members, we can find some valuable nuggets for personal instruction woven throughout. Verse 13 holds one of those nuggets, when Paul offers some stern words about gossip. Paul only briefly mentions it (". . . going about from house to house, and not only idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not."), but these few words convey volumes.

Nothing good comes from gossiping. Some of the biggest hurts I've experienced have been because of gossip—both words directed at me or about me from others and words I foolishly and sinfully spoke to or about someone else. Growing up my mom used to tell me, "If you can't say something nice about someone, then don't say it at all." At the time, I didn't really give it a lot of thought (I probably did a few eye rolls when she wasn't looking). It wasn't until I was much older that I was able to fully grasp this sound and wise advice from my Godly mama.

When are you most tempted to gossip? What are some safeguards you have or can put in place to help you not speak words of gossip? How do you react when someone else starts gossiping? What are some ways you could respond to discourage and/or squelch gossip by others? Tami

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3 Comments


Tami, I would like to ask you the same questions. I think we all could profit from your answers! Thanking you in advance


Sometimes our conversation can lead to too much information which becomes unintentional gossip and that is what I am guilty of and have tried to discourage.

I am not good at squelching or discouraging gossip in a tactful way.


Wanda,

You asked for some of my answers to the questions about gossip, so here goes!

When am I most tempted to gossip?

I find that I am most tempted to gossip when I allow feelings of jealousy to creep in and take root. I am also more likely to give in to gossiping when I’m feeling frustrated or discouraged about a situation. For example, being passed over for someone else to head up a team, not being asked to contribute to a project that I believe I’m suited for, etc. And generally speaking, if I’m not in a positive frame of mind, I’m more susceptible to negative talk.

A safeguard I put in place: I am a huge proponent of what I like to call “the 5-10 second rule.” That just means that I try to be intentional about think through what I’m going to say for at least 5-10 seconds before it leaves my lips. I can’t tell you how many times just those few seconds have allowed me to gather my thoughts and emotions and put aside hurtful, wrong, and sinful words.

How do I react when someone else starts gossiping? And how can/do I squelch the gossip?

I have several thoughts and some examples on these. You wrote that you’re not good at discouraging gossip in a “tactful” way, so I’ll start there. When someone else starts gossiping, sometimes the most effective way to squelch it is to actually not be tactful. Let me explain with a personal example. A number of years ago I was with one of my best friends, and I turned the conversation to gossip. Without any hesitation, my friend turned to me and said quite bluntly, “I’m not going to be part of this conversation because it’s gossip.” (Wow, right?) First off, I wasn’t thinking about the fact that what I was saying was gossip as I jumped into the conversation (but it certainly was). Secondly, I wasn’t prepared for that response from her, but I needed to hear it. The gossipy conversation ended immediately. Was I hurt or angry? Actually, no. I was embarrassed, but I needed to hear the message she delivered. It wasn’t pleasant, but I learned from this situation and have used this same approach with a few close friends over the years. All that to say, there may be situations where a blunt statement like, “Hey, this is gossip and we need to stop,” is perfectly okay.

Other times, you will need to be tactful, and here are a few things I have done and continue to do when I find myself in a conversation that turns to gossip. First and foremost, I don’t nod my head in agreement because I’m trying to be “nice.” I refrain from adding to or participating in the conversation. Depending on the person or people in the group, you may simply need to disengage from the conversation and walk away. You could possibly say something like, “I’m not comfortable with this conversation” or, “Hey, let’s not go down this path.” Or if you can’t leave and you’re not in a position or place where it would be appropriate to speak up, you may need to talk with the offending party privately after the fact about what they said, telling them it wasn’t appropriate and how you don’t want to be a part of those types of conversations going forward.

One last thought: when we do slip into gossip (and it happens), go back to the person or group and acknowledge to them that what you said was gossip and was wrong, and ask them to forgive you. I’ve done and continue to do this, and while it didn’t stop the gossip the first time around, it does help squelch it going forward.

I’m sure there are more examples, but these are the ones that come to my mind and that I have done over the years. Hope this was helpful. I appreciate your comments and questions. Keep them coming!

Tami

Thank you so much, Tami!! I appreciate your taking the time to reply to me and hopefully it has helped others! God bless you and I can not wait to see what you have for all of your readers for tomorrow from God' Word!

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About Me

Hi, my name is Tami Weissert, the P4 facilitator and the "voice" behind the blogs. I'm passionate about helping people grow spiritually and actively encourage Bible engagement through conference speaking and writing. I also served as co-host of the Back to the Bible radio program for over 8 years. A little about me. I'm married to Jeff, and we love scuba diving, playing with our 3 dachshunds and going to Husker football games. I also love growing orchids, singing and Diet Pepsi. I hope you'll join in the conversation as we read the Bible and grow together.

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This page contains a single entry by Tami W published on March 5, 2020 3:25 AM.

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