Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Guilty of Gossip?

My blogs often come back to bite me. A couple of blogs down, I wrote about an awkward conversation at a wedding. I am tempted to remove the blog, but for transparency reasons I think it should be up for a while. A local guy invited me to lunch for a stimulating and encouraging conversation about life and ministry, church stories and faith in practice. Towards the end, he asked me if anyone at the table offended him. I was momentarily stunned and then recalled the blog and recounted as much of it as I could. He then told me that he had received the blog as had the guy I was talking to.
My new friend was gracious as could be, but I felt guilty because he/they identified themselves in the blog with my critical words (interesting that my blog about criticism came off as critical itself). I had to apologize and ask for the other fellow's contact information, because I should have talked with him first instead of blasting out.
I guess this also comes at an opportune time: Ash Wednesday, when I will soon reflect on the meaning of ashes and impose them on worshipers as their act of confession. My lead is to confess to gossiping about a brother instead of talking with him directly. A blog can do that, overtly or inadvertently. I can skip the Matthew 18 process about talking with a brother (or sister) face to face and jump to the easier venue of talking about him/her/them in the abstract, making me look innocent and them bad.
"Remember, you are dust, and to dust you shall return. Repent and believe the gospel."


At 8:18 PM , Blogger Diana said...

You know, Don, I've read and re-read that blog, and it didn't seem to me on either reading that you were being critical. You were relating an experience that you had - that's what blogs are all about, aren't they? The experience was painful, awkward and thought-provoking, causing you to be reflective in a positive way, after all was said and done. I've had conversations like that one, where someone - often without realizing at all what they're doing - comes across as being almost assaultive in their comments. It's tough to respond, period, let alone respond intelligently. It was a good reminder to me to approach every conversation with care, to listen more than I talk, to ask questions that invite response rather than defense and to always try to find something positive and constructive to say. Thanks for posting it.


At 2:54 PM , Anonymous steve anderson said...

If I were Pilate and you appeared before me on the charges of "gossip" I would say as Pilate once did, "I find no guilt in this man". Unlike Pilate, I do not want to wash my hands of this matter. I want to examine, as we all should, my own heart and with the Psalmist pray for God to point out anything in me that would cause offense to our Lord and God. I see a fundamental problem with blog, e mail and all electronic media, there is great potential for misunderstanding. There is no opportunity to read the person's face, read hurt or anger or frustaration or sincere confusion. For a first introduction to the person through the blog or e mail there is the absence of relationship. I know Don. I know his heart so of course I read his first blog as innocent and I wrongfully judged those about whom he wrote. Because I know Don I read his follow up blog as so very Christ like. I love a real pastor, who is human and caring and oh yes one who is real and matter of fact in their communication talking about the world as they see it, able to demonstrate that they are really human but saved by grace. Don you are that pastor and I love you for it. Keep inspiring and teaching and growing me as you are guided by the Holy Spirit. And by the way, since so many of my "wish I had not said thats" happen in e mail I will more than likely be a reader and seldom a responder.


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