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Ep. 404 How to Respond When Someone Gossips to You

Ep. 404 How to Respond When Someone Gossips to You

Shows Main Idea – What do you do when someone data-dumps on you about someone else? You did not ask for it, but the person gossiped about another person—perhaps a friend of yours—and it was unsolicited. These situations are almost always messy, leaving you uncomfortable and challenged to respond humbly and biblically to the gossiper. In most cases, this is not the first time the gossiper gossiped, which ratchets up the need to do something about it because gossip is a spiritual cancer that divides friendships and churches.

Show Notes

You may want to read:

A Personal Story

Before I provide a few tips about how to respond to the gossiper, let me share with you a story about a time when someone data-dumped on me about our pastor.

If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all (Romans 12:18).

Gossip Questions

  • What was the nature of the gossip?
    • Are they revealing to you a grievous sin about another person?
    • Is this causal gossip that is not as damning but still yet careless chatter?
  • Is this out of character for this person or a part of their communication speech patterns?
    • Would you characterize this person as a gossip, someone who is divisive?
  • Are you able to overlook this one-time careless chatter?
    • What does it mean to ignore, and why would you do it this time?
  • Would it be wise to speak with a leader in your church about what you heard and who said it?

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Gossip Tips

Let’s say you cannot ignore it, the gossip is damning, and the gossiper has a habit of loose lips. If this is true, you must respond to the gossip; here are a few tips to help you work through the process. Please read, watch, or listen to my resource about The Art and Care of Correction Among Friends as you work through this process.

  1. It would be best if you confronted the gossiper. If you’re receiving unsolicited information, you have to let them know that they are sinning.
  2. You will have to confront any fear of man issues you might have. The temptation will be to overlook the sin of gossip when you know you should not (James 4:17); that would not be wise because rarely will this instance of gossip be the first time the gossiper gossiped.
  3. You want to let them know you’re not part of the solution or the problem. It can be okay to talk to a person about someone else, but the motives of the person sharing the information must be humble and redemptive, and they are talking to someone who is part of the problem, or someone who can bring about a solution.
  4. As you confront the gossiper, you ask them to go to the person they gossiped about and seek their forgiveness. They should let that person know what they did (said) and seek transactional forgiveness.
  5. You let the gossiper know you will follow up with the person they gossiped about, so give them an appropriate timeframe to go to the person to seek their forgiveness.
  6. Once enough time has lapsed, follow up with the gossiper to make sure they have cleaned up their sin. At this juncture, you can let them know you’re going to check with the other person to make sure that complete reconciliation has happened. It could be that the one gossiped about is struggling.
  7. Always keep in view that you are part of the problem and solution at this juncture, though you never sought to be in this position. But since you are, you must take the lead and bring this sin even to a redemptive close.
  8. If the gossiper is your friend, you do not want them in your inner circle. You don’t want intimacy with this kind of person where you’re sharing personal information with them. If they gossip to you, they will gossip about you.
  9. Perhaps later, after objective repentance and a period of discretion and humility, they can move closer to your most intimate circle of friends. Still, for now, you must not be vulnerable or transparent with them. You must not trust them.
  10. If you struggle with this process, reach out to your church leaders. Again, talking “up the chain” to someone in authority who can work out a solution with you is not wrong. You don’t want to speak horizontally to folks who cannot help you. You don’t want to do what the gossiper did to you.

Call to Action

  1. What aspects of this process do you struggle with and might need to talk to someone about it? If you struggle, will you speak to someone in spiritual authority, preferably in your church?
  2. Describe a time when someone gossiped to you. How did it go? How could you have responded better to the person?
  3. Is there someone in your life who has gossiped to you? Are there a few things you need to do to tidy up the situation? If so, what is your plan?
  4. If you need more help, will you do a deeper dive by reading the three articles just under the Show Notes at the top of this page?

Need More Help?

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