Let’s discuss the pastor’s wife and gossip. Somebody needs to, right?
When was the last time you recall your husband (or any pastor) preach on gossip? I’ll give you a minute to think about it. Was it recently? Have you ever? Did they go into detail and explain what it exactly is or how it looks in real life? You may be like me [and several of my girlfriends] who can’t remember ever hearing a full-blown sermon on this topic. More often than not, preachers just say “don’t gossip” and that’s it. I wish it were that simple. It’s complicated. Saying “don’t gossip” is like saying “don’t eat sugar” without explaining that it hides in many products and foods. Sugar is in bread. Sugar is in breath mints, sugar is in spaghetti sauce – I could go on and on. That’s one of the reasons I wanted to write this post about the pastor’s wife and gossip. I just don’t think we talk about or think about it enough in practical, real-life scenarios.
Gossip is one of those controversial topics pastors avoid – at least in my opinion. They can’t afford to because we live in a gossip-ridden world. Gossip is the basis of many talk shows and magazines. Heck, the lady with the wigs wouldn’t even have a show without gossip and they’re plenty other shows with the same plight. Do you think our culture is addicted to secrets and having “the inside track”?
Sure, celebrities are public figures, but so much of what the press reports about them is really none of our business. Yet, they can’t wait to broadcast every little detail of celebrities’ lives. The gossipers in your church or neighborhood behave the same way. Girl, they find out something juicy and just can’t wait to share it with someone else.
We have to be on guard for gossipers– especially as senior pastor’s wives.
For countless reasons, folks intentionally try to share secrets with us about other people. It happens to me all the time. It’s like the sugar hiding in an unexpected place.
They have no intention of gossiping, they just want me to pray – or that’s what they tell me. Does that happened to you? I think it’s our job to catch the intent and speak up. It’s our responsibility. They may not realize what they are sharing is “gossipy”. I know it can be awkward to halt the conversation when you’re unsure of the intent. Even when I’m unsure of the intent, I err on the side of caution and stop sketchy conversations quickly.
I will generally say something like:
“You have her call me to discuss this, OK? It’s not good integrity for me to talk about it with you and she’s not here”.
Most people understand my response and I’ve never had a bad reaction to saying that. I know it can be tricky. It’s especially tough when the person sharing has no intention on gossiping; they just want to vent or get my advice. No ill intent at all. But, I still stop them speedily because the other person needs to be involved. Does that make sense?
The Gossip Litmus Test and the Pastor’s Wife …
Want to know my key to avoiding stupid gossip? It’s all in:
1) the context of the conversation and
2) the details shared.
Let’s start with context of the conversation.
You know when a conversation turns “gross” and is no longer praise-worthy. If it feels “slimy”, squash it immediately. The Holy Spirit lives inside you and you should know His voice. When you’re not sure of a conversation’s context, ask Him for guidance and then obey His urgings.
Every now and then, I hear Him in my heart say “DON’T SAY THAT!” It’s not an audible voice. More often than not, I listen. I appreciate Him leading me to “shut up” when I need to. I also know He’s ‘talking’ to me when I get an uncomfortable feeling in my belly. Do you know what I mean?
If I ignore Him, my heart becomes hard and rebellious. Then, I don’t seem to hear Him as clearly. That’s a flashback to my stubborn 20s. I never want that to happen again. So, obey quickly when He speaks to you.
Other times, the conversation just doesn’t “feel” like something God wants me involved in – then I cease it. Again, you’ll know when the Holy Spirit wants you to end a conversation or change it’s direction. If not, spend more time with Him so you learn His voice and His promptings. I would say daily, consistent time in Bible study and prayer breeds that type of intimacy and spiritual maturity. You need that as a pastor’s wife.
Now, let’s talk the pitfalls of specifics…
As I mentioned, one of the indicators of gossip is the context of the conversation. Another one is details. Frankly, I don’t think we always need as many details as we believe we do in order to be supportive.
When someone asks for prayer, why do people immediately ask “what’s wrong?”
More often than not, it’s none of their business. Knowing shouldn’t cause you to pray much differently than if you didn’t. If the Lord leads me, I’ll ask “Are you OK?” or “Is there something further I can do?”
Let me share how I pray for most people – no details needed. You’re just going to B.L.E.S.S. them.
B – Pray God blesses their body and physical being.
L – Ask God to bless their work and everything they lay their hand to do.
E – Ask Him to touch and regulate their emotions and bring healing there.
S – Pray God sends them Christian friends and heals relationships and every area of their social life.
S – Ask God to touch their spirit-man and give them peace while conforming them into the image of Christ.
Get it? That’s the B.L.E.S.S. model. It’s only a guide. I learned it years ago from someone online (I wish I could remember who it was). If you know who authored this model, let me know. Anyhoo, it guides me in a complete and comprehensive way of intercession.
Again, you can pray for others without details, senior pastor’s wife. We don’t always need details from the person or from some third party. Too many details can breed gossip cycles. Nip it in the bud when people approach you to pray for others or request prayer themselves.
What to tell your husband…
I have this weird thing with my husband. When people confide in me, I don’t share with him what they told me. I know that sounds strange, but if they wanted him to know, they would have told him. Plus, should he ever preach on their situation, God can get so much more glory from it if he doesn’t know. They can think “Wow! God is speaking directly to me through pastor”. If I “spill the beans”, I think it compromises that possibility.
Now, I have had some exceptions through the years. In cases his leadership needs to be involved, I share those situations with him. However, I always ask [the person] if I can tell my husband. Their trust means the world to me.
Another exception would be something pretty foul behaviors like someone stealing church funds, beating their wife or abusing children, etc. Those types of scenarios are critical and require an undershepherd’s (or legal) attention. Use your wisdom. If you’re still not sure, ask your husband.
Dave Burchette wrote a terrific article about this subject on Crosswalk.Com. It’s called “Two Reasons Why Christians Gossip”. In the article, he really “goes in” — as the young people would say. He found and listed 14 scriptural references on gossip. Some include:
Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, quarreling, deception, malicious behavior, and gossip.
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
Sin is not ended by multiplying words, but the prudent hold their tongues.
Want more scriptures? Check out Bible Study Tools.Com for scriptures on gossip. They have a topical list of scriptures on gossip . Click here to view scriptures those scriptures.
Encouragement for Women.Com says “Gossiping can seem fun and harmless but the reality is it can be very hurtful and do much damage to our relationships with others.” She keeps it real, doesn’t she? Our nosy human nature loves gossip. Still, it’s incredibly harmful and can ruin relationships and even church dynamics. We can’t indulge. Besides, it’s a sin. Forget about the pastor’s wife and gossip – no Christian should be associated with gossip either. Sin.
Let’s be honest, a lot of sins are “fun” for our natural selves, but that doesn’t mean it’s for us to do. Before you write me off as a complete heathen, the Bible even says sin is pleasurable for a minute or a “season” (Hebrews 11:25). When fun is equivalent to sin, you have to do some assessing and check your spiritual maturity level. Ask yourself: is Colossians 3:3 really true for me? If it is, you care more about what pleases God than what people think or even what pleases your senses. Fun or not, don’t gossip and don’t listen to it.
Finally, senior pastor’s wife, we’re all a work in progress. As we strive toward being like Christ, remember to keep gossipers at bay by examining every conversation’s intent. Then be careful of sharing and receiving too many details. And lastly, be a vault. Never betray trusts or be in the presence of others doing it.
If you’re a pastor reading this – consider preaching more on this topic. Your congregation needs your direction navigating gossips circles.
Well, thanks for taking the time to read Married to a Pastor.Com. I pray my journey blesses your journey and that we both mature in Christ. I love you, senior pastor’s wife/first lady.
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My sources referenced:
Mr. Burchette’s article – http://www.crosswalk.com/faith/spiritual-life/dont-be-gossip-the-parasites-host-organism.html
Quote from Encouragement for Women – http://www.encouragementforwomen.com/page7.htm