Church Leadership

Gossip is the Ultimate Destroyer!

By Dr. Richard J. Krejcir
Gossip is Evil and Gossip destroys! "There is no better way to start conflict, than to spread gossip!"

Most Christians have not let Christ transform them beyond the first stage of salvation; especially in their way of thinking and mindset. This places a limit on how and what Christ is able to accomplish in their lives. Therefore, the result of this behavior is that gossip becomes a normal practice. So most Christians listening to or spreading the news are not aware that it is wrong, because their experience and minds tell them it's okay...

Gossip is Evil and Gossip Destroys!

 
"There is no better way to start conflict, than to spread gossip!"

The definition of gossip is simple, "Rumor or talk of a personal or sensational nature, someone who habitually spreads sensational or intimate facts." Webster's Dictionary

We Christians seem to have the problem of getting stuck in our own little world. Not so much the world of our subculture where we buy our clothes and our car, and go only to "Christian" businesses and have only Christian friends. This is an entirely different problem in of itself. There's nothing wrong with frequenting Christian businesses, but if all we do is live our lives in the Christian subculture, how can we effectively further Christ's kingdom? We can't. But this is not what we're talking about. Rather we seem to get stuck in our own mindset, where we evaluate all of our experiences, including meeting and relating to people, and even worshipping God, to our own very limited experience and way of thinking.

When we engage in this behavior, we severely limit our ability to be used to emphasize the gifts that Christ gave us, and let the Word of God transform us. We keep comparing everything to our own way of thinking and our experience, and if something doesn't match it, we throw it out. Now, most Christians would never admit to doing this, because most of them do not realize they're doing it, but the result of these actions is that these Christians do not grow spiritually and the churches do not grow numerically. If you are not sure you have this problem, then ask yourself this question; Do you compare your experiences to God's Word, or do you compare God's Word to your experiences?

This question is designed to focus our attention on God's Word as absolute and authoritative. The Bible is the final authority on all matters of faith and practice. So if you have an experience, then you are to test it according to God's Word, and not the opposite. Which would be to compare it to our own extremely limited experiences, or our friend's limited knowledge and experience. This opposite would be to put the focus on our experience as normative. Thus all of our encounters in life are compared to our views and experience, and only then compared secondarily to God's Word. And if God's Word is not in compliance with our experiences; then we reject the Scripture and not our experience. That is why we have so much false teaching in the church and media today. People have the innate ability, due to our fallen nature, to elevate our experience over anything else, and rationalize and reject what does not match, even over God's Word.

So what does this have to do with gossip? A lot! It has to do with all interpretations and experiences of the Christian life and walk. Gossip has become a normative practice in the Christian life. When we run across the Christian who honestly believes that gossip is okay, and even beneficial, we know why they came to that conclusion, when God's Word is clear and imperative on the evils of gossip.

The Soil that Grows Gossip

Most Christians have not let Christ transform them beyond the first stage of salvation; especially in their way of thinking and mindset. This places a limit on how and what Christ is able to accomplish in their lives. Therefore, the result of this behavior is that gossip becomes a normal practice. So most Christians listening to or spreading the news are not aware that it is wrong, because their experience and minds tell them it's okay. It's okay because others are doing, it's okay because I get away with it, and it's okay because I never heard a correction from reliable sources. Proverbs tells us that "A scoffer who is rebuked will only hate you; the wise, when rebuked, will love you." {Proverbs 9:8} What this verse is in effect saying is when a person hears correct teaching and does not like it or does not like the person who gave it to them, then they will throw it out as worthless. You don't have to listen to someone you don't like. This is a big part of the problem of false teachings. And the problem of good teaching going to waste!

The Disease of Gossip

Too many people give up their faith because of the mean gestures of Christians.

Make no mistake, gossip will destroy with a greater impact and power than possibly any other event a church could ever face! I had lunch one day with a prominent Christian pastor, who I admired very much. After our small talk, he started to bad mouth the other pastors on staff at his church, and then proceeded to do the same with a few I mentioned I admired. He went on saying how that pastor was not spiritual as he, and how another pastor's kids were all messed up, then how another pastor's book was out of touch with God's Word. He went on and on, and I sat there stunned. I lost my appetite and I was at a loss for words. Now people who know me well can tell you I'm rarely at a loss for words, nor do I ignore a good meal! It was not so much what he said that bothered me, it was how he said it. And not too long ago, he delivered one of the best sermon series I have heard on gossip. It seemed he was tearing down others to make himself feel better.

A few years ago those of us in Southern California were being ravaged by forest fires. It looked as if the entire San Gabriel mountain range was ablaze. I remember it well, as it's burned into my memory! I also remember how one of those huge fires started, a homeless man was trying to warm himself with matches, and it got away from him. All the streets were blocked for miles, I had no way to get home as I watched in wonder at the roadblock to my house. You see, the tongue of ours is such a fire starter. All that it takes to burn a forest down is a spark; all it takes to destroy a church is our mouths running amuck. Satan himself cannot do a better job, then our own misdirected words!

Stopping the Waves that the Beast of Destruction operates!

But rather, to cover up her sin and her lifestyle. Her way of thinking was if she can stir everyone up against a key leader in the Church, then the focus will be off her and on someone else. Actually, when you think about it, this is a brilliant strategy, a classic counterattack, or a first strike to protect yourself from attack. To prevent someone from attacking you, you attack first. This is the way of the world, and the thinking of the Jerry Springer crowd. You can call this the bully syndrome.

Bullies in the playground tend to have a poor, weak self-image, coupled with poor upbringing, and parents who don't have time or don't care. Or the parents themselves create the environment of hostility in the first place. If you do not believe this, just go to a Little League baseball game and watch how some of the parents behave in the crowd. These behaviors may include egging the youth on to get into fights because they themselves grew up that way, or demanding that their youth must perform better than everyone else's. So, the bully will get his tension out in different ways, as an escape mechanism. One of the ways the bully will substitute care and attention is by picking on other people; this makes them feel good about themselves. By picking on other people it creates an environment where they're not the ones being picked on, which gives them comfort and security.

For the Christian who is living contrary to the will of God, especially in matters of morality and values, the best way to cover sin up is to attack others who have values, in that way they can rationalize that they're doing the right thing, which gives them comfort and security. Christian leaders need to be aware of this phenomenon, so we can correct these behaviors before they blow up and cause mass destruction by spreading and effecting the body of Christ. That's why it is so imperative that a church has a caring and loving attitude, it must be prominent in the church, so when such cancerous outbreaks occur they can be easily spotted. Just as a forest fire cannot easily spread when the ground is wet; however, a fire will spread rapidly when there is a dry environment. When a church is wet with love and caring attitudes and healthy Biblical teaching, the fires of these diseases cannot spread because there's no fuel to spread them.

Then we can concentrate on ministering to and caring for that individual. Because the person who usually causes the attack needs ministering in a big way, even though they may not want it or feel that they need it. They're hurting too, just like a wounded dog. I'm not saying some Christians are dogs, this is just an illustration.

When I was a boy, my grandparents had a poodle named Cindy. This was one of the most affectionate and sweetest dogs I've ever met. I was very rough on that dog. I would climb on Cindy and hang on her ears as she dragged me around. She would put up with me and love me no matter what I did, and I probably hurt her many times. One day my grandfather was backing out of the driveway and he accidentally ran over the dog, and she was injured. When I ran to her side to pick her up, she bit me, and I was in shock. After all, I was trying to help, I did not run her over, but Cindy was in shock too and did not know what was going on, and her instincts was to protect herself and bite.

People can be that way too, when they're so hurt and injured and see no other way out of the situation, they will create an environment to relieve that hurting by afflicting hurt on someone else. In most cases this is done unintentionally. But there are people who are in need of putting other people down with cynical and sly remarks to make themselves feel good. It is imperative for pastors and leaders and mature Christians to be aware of the interpersonal dynamics of human behavior, so they can understand what is going on and provide remedies for dysfunctional situations.

This is not a new phenomenon as the early church struggled with it. The book of James was a counter to the problem of slander and called people to make the necessary changes to their relationships so they could be more effective for Christ. The main area of needed change was the tongue.

"Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider how a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and itself set on fire by hell."James 3:5-6

The Four Waves that the Beast of Destruction operates!

The Word of God is clear; gossip will corrupt the whole person! The impact we should feel from these verses should bring us down to our knees. Gossip is so inviting. How often have I found myself slipping with my tongue, without the intention of doing any harm. Yet it has! When we have a clear view of gossip's "geniuses;" how gossip comes about, and how it destroys; then we can be better at protecting others from the harm that we may cause. Gossip in my experience causes 4 distinct waves of destruction:

1: First and foremost, gossip violates Scripture! Psalm 5:9; 12:3; 52:2 The pastor's wife a few pages back knew this very well, as we all should. The bottom line is we are not taking God's Word seriously enough. We tend to elevate our experiences over God's Word, rather than mistrusting our experiences, and trusting God's direction. Remember God is a God of truth, and He expects His children to be truthful to each other. When we reject the truth of Scripture we are in fact rejecting God Himself.

2: Gossip violates the person's reputation we are speaking about! Psalm 109:2-3; 120:2-3 There are times when we need to speak about another person, to protect someone else. For example, when I was a youth pastor, I was concerned that no one working with youth had any kind of sex offense. So I would check references, this is not gossip. Gossip of this kind is spreading a tale we have heard or have made up without any factual basis to it. Now my pastor friend, who made me lose my appetite, did speak the truth; however, he did it in a way that had no reason to be told, just for the sake of conversation and building himself up. Just like stories that are made up just for the sake of putting someone else down. If you hear that someone has not been to church in a while, that does not mean you spread it around the world. What it does mean is that you go to the pastor and/or the leadership, and they deal with it. You may also visit that person yourself in a loving and encouraging way.

3: Gossip violates the person's reputation who is spreading it! Proverbs 10:18-21; 16:28; 17:4; James 1:26 It is simple; if you spread false information, people will not believe you when you are telling the truth, i.e. the boy who cried wolf. The result of the pastor's wife was the loss of a church and her reputation. When this happens the sacredness of trust is violated, and when there's no trust then no healthy relationships will be able to develop. Our relationship with God becomes affected, and the congregation's relationships to each other are extremely limited in their ability to grow too. Although typically the person gossiping defensively spins it around so that it is everyone else's fault. Just as that pastor's wife did.

4: Gossip effects the listener's impression! Proverbs 25:23 Jeremiah 9:8 The person hearing the rumor may believe it and in turn share it with others, thus creating a never ending cycle of misinformation. Thus the cycles of hurt and pain keep going. This happened at my church in the south, where one leader's gossip caused the destruction, because people who heard it believed it, and in turn told others. This is also where the gossiping groups come into action. They spend their time gossiping and not in the spiritual disciplines of growth in Christ. So the people get the wrong message. The untruth of the news is actually not the only thing being misrepresented. Since the method, as well as the action of spreading it in the first place, is also being misrepresented. Hence the attitude of since every one else is doing it, then it is okay if I do it too.

Ó Rev. R.J. Krejcir 1998, 2001 excerpt from the upcoming book 'Pew Sitting'

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