Updated: Oct 10, 2019
I used to gossip.
Not always and not as horrible as some women I know, but I’ve certainly done my share of gossipping in my lifetime.
I was new to small-town Fergus Falls twelve years ago and didn’t realize that everybody knew everybody, and most were somehow distantly related! I was a city girl where word didn’t travel fast and nobody was related to anybody...and then I moved to Fergus Falls. And boy did I get a lesson in gossip!
A friend shared with me a challenge her daughter was going through. I, unthoughtfully, shared that personal information with another friend who in turn took it back to the one who confided in me. There’s nothing worse than getting that phone call that confronts the trust you broke. My heart sunk. I had betrayed my friend.
Gossip creates scars. It breaks trust and creates animosity. But where there are scars, there are opportunities for growth and to show God’s glory.
Truly, I was grateful for that confrontation. It caused me pause and made me look at myself. What drama was I creating and for who? Who was i selfishly serving and why? And how can I turn this into a glory to God?
Gossip will destroy any family, relationship, or work environment faster than anything else. Gossip is poison to any environment. Did you hear me? It’s poison!
I recently addressed this issue in one of my keynotes where audience members told me gossip was a problem in their work environment.
First of all, let me ask, are you that person? Are you a pot stirrer?
If that's you, ask yourself how you really feel when you gossip. I honestly felt sick inside when i gossiped. I thought it elevated me above others, but in reality, it made me look bad.
I came from drama in my family of origin. Things were always blown out of proportion and the focus was on what was wrong not on what was right. That negativity became a way of life for me. But it didn’t really make me feel good. And in fact, made me swim in the pit of negativity. Gossip can be avoided if we are honest about the tough stuff with the person we have the issue with and take it to them, or don't sweat the small stuff, accept differences in others weh it is small stuff and let it go.
Do you do that? Do you let things go? Or do you talk behind people's backs? Was there drama in your home growing up like mine? Did your family focus on the negative? On what's wrong not what's right?
Let me get right to the point.
If that’s you, STOP IT! That’s right, just stop it!
How? At first it will seem difficult because it's become a habit. But it's a bad habit. Bad habits take about 21 days to break. So here's how you do it...you know that emoji with the zipped lips? Let that be you and just zip it! See that face in your head when you want to gossip. Or imagine a STOP sign. But whatever you do, STOP IT! You are not only hurting yourself but you are hurting others.
When people talk negatively about others behind their backs they make messes for everyone involved and destroy opportunity for growth. Most importantly, they break down trust. And if someone is gossiping to you, don’t you wonder what they say about you behind your back? I know I do.
There’s a false sense of self that comes with gossipping: somehow we think we're better or know better. We feel like we are one-up on someone else. But it’s a lie.
And think about this...who do you serve when you gossip? There are only two choices: God or Satan.
That awareness has made me pause over and over in my life.
There’s really nothing positive that comes out of gossip. We cause pain to others, we don’t address the problem, bitterness builds, and we break down trust in relationships. Truly when we're the gossiper people won't put their trust in us. And then we wonder why we have no friends and only the mean girls want to hang with us.
Another way to stop it is something I learned about a decade ago: consult the one that made you. When you're about to open your mouth and focus on negativity or stir the pot, ask God what he thinks. Trust me, he’ll let you know whether to open your mouth or not!
I was humbled that day I got that call. I apologized to that friend, feeling the pain of the trust I'd broken, feeling her distrust of me. And I'm certain she's never felt like she could trust me the same way. I lost a friend. And that saddened me. But it changed me. It made me humble, and made me realize the power of gossip and who I serve when I bow to that.
Gossip created scars in my life, not just as the recipient of hurtful gossip, but also as the pot stirrer. And now, to God's glory, I let Him lead my conversation and guards my tongue. It's an amazing gift.
So if you gossip, put up that STOP sign, ZIP IT, and seek God as you guide. You and everyone around you will be so much better off.