Wow, I am such a fortunate guy. Let me explain. I have noticed a trend over the years that whenever I am with other people they never speak badly about me. However, they do sometimes speak badly of others, but I can dismiss this because they don’t talk about me.
Well, I need to give these people a little more credit. They don’t always speak badly of others, but they do sometimes reveal a lot of details about the lives of others, their failures, their marriage problems, their inadequacies and shortcomings especially in the area of ministry. It is so tempting to join in the conversation because it makes one feel accepted when people invite you in the confidence “of others”.
I am also glad people don’t talk about me because I feel inadequate at times, I am not the perfect husband and dad, and I have shared my inadequacies with my friends. I have made a few dumb mistakes in ministry and in life, and sometimes I just did not know how to do what I was doing. The average guy.
Then there are a few leaders whom I know that don’t talk about anyone. They are tight lipped, and you can’t pry their mouths open with a crowbar. One of them is my pastor, Mike. I can’t get any news out of the guy, and I am quite sure no one can get any “negative” news about me from him. Thanks Mike!
I know another leader like Mike, but he would want to remain nameless. He praises everyone in public – and in private. When he talks about people’s accomplishments he embellishes them to make the people look really good. He has done this to me, and I felt awkward because I know the failures that have accompanied the accomplishments. This guy just didn’t feel the need to mention the failures and shortcomings. However, he did mention his own shortcomings on the mission field which made me feel a lot better about my clumsy journey. He has helped many in the same way.
No, I am not stupid, just being constructively sarcastic. I know that if my closest friends would talk about their closest friends in front of me then my life might be too juicy to pass up when I am not around. Don’t worry; I am not paranoid about people talking about me right now. Really, all is quiet on the Eastern Front. It is just a point that has to be made. I have run my mouth at times, and was convicted later. No one is really innocent in this.
We reap what we sow, so I am without excuse if my name goes through the ringer. I can contribute to an overall atmosphere that will eventually turn on me also or lift me up. I find that I must prepare my heart when getting around crowds and even leaders. I tell myself, “Mike, don’t talk so much. You WILL be tempted to gossip especially under the guise of ministry. Just shut your mouth.” I also try to preemptively praise others so that any attempt to gossip by others will have to go through an awkward barrier. It is a discipline.
When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable, but he who restrains his lips is wise. Prov 10:19
Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. Eph 4:29
He who conceals a transgression seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates intimate friends. Prov 17:9