Pastors are often victims of gossip. I guess people don’t really know who to go when they need to talk about the pastor? Or maybe we’re just jerks and deserve what we get? Either way we grow a pretty thick skin as a result, but we don’t start that way. For a long time I would lash back at people when they gossiped. I’d preach an angry sermon, or I’d chide the entire group for something small. That was wrong and I frequently ask forgiveness when I get the opportunity. It took me a long time to learn how I needed to deal with rumors and gossip. It took me a long time to see past my own hurt and recognize the deeper need for redemption of the gossiper. It took me a long time to see past myself. So, now I want to share some simple guidelines I try really hard to live by, though I often fail.
- Pray and Fast more than you talk.
- Don’t worry too much about what people think about you… they are far too busy thinking about themselves to worry about you. Most people are not thinking about you when you are not around. We are far too self-centered for that. You are not chief in their thoughts… they are chief in their thoughts.
- Address false rumors immediately with the root source of the rumor. In other words call the person responsible for starting the rumor and clear it up right away. If you cannot find the root source, then trust God to deal with it. If the rumor does not involve you, stop the person from telling you and ignore it.
- Fight rumors with prayer and transparency. God defends His church, of which you are apart (I Cor. 3:16-17). Therefore, God will protect you through false accusation. As for transparency, if everyone sees what you do, then no one can accurately say something false against you. Romans 12:14-21. DO NOT GET INVOLVED BY GOSSIPING BACK OR CORRECTING THE RUMOR WITH A SECOND OR THIRD PARTY! AND DO NOT TRY TO MANIPULATE YOUR WAY AROUND GOSSIP. Honesty is the best policy. Pray hard and be honest.
- Love those who gossip about you. Romans 12:20, you will heap burning coals on their heads and they will be brought to repentance.
- Work hard for the Gospel! I find that if you are busy about the Lord’s work, you won’t be too worried about what people say.
- Remember Heaven! All things will be laid bare in Heaven. There is nothing on this earth that will compare to the glory of Heaven. Further, you will give an account for what you have done on earth… You should fear God more than a rumor.
- Shoot the horse when you have to. If a brother or sister in Christ is gossiping to the point where they are harming themselves, then you have to shoot the horse. Go to that brother or sister and confront the sin, tell them you love them and that this is unacceptable. If they refuse to admit wrong, start Matthew 18 discipline. Remember gossip hurts those who participate in it, not those who live above it. If you are living above it, your primary concern is for their well-being and your goal will not be to defend yourself, but to lift them up. If it is not, you probably ought to pray and fast a bit more.
20. don’t keep count of wrongs… Jesus doesn’t do it to you, don’t do it to others.