This week I have been in email contact with an old ministry colleague. He was once on staff at a Church with me and now he is the preaching minister at a Church in northern Indiana. In our conversation he was venting his frustration about a lady in the Church who continues to stir up dissension among the Christians there.
I have been there and I feel his pain. I will never fully understand why some people are so negative about the Church they attend. They will talk to anyone who will listen to their complaints and issues. Honestly, I believe it is done by people who are desperately longing for attention even if it comes in negative ways.
My interaction with my friend reminded me of a story John Maxwell told in a leadership lesson many years ago. He told about a woman in his Church who was a gossip and a source of division. He and a leader confronted her and asked why she was spreading such awful stories about people. Most of her stories were full on lies or half-truths and she was destroying the church. She said, “I can’t help it, people just tell me these stories and I have to share them.”
After a long silence, John said, “Do you know why people take their trash to the dump?”
She was taken aback and said, “Not really.”
John said, “Because they accept it there.” Then he paused and said, “The day they stop accepting it people will stop going there.”
Then he looked at her and stated plainly, “You need to stop listening to all the trash that people keep telling you. Then you will not have any stories to tell and our Church will smell less like a dump.”
I do not know what happened to that lady. I am not sure what happened at the Church. I do know that every Church struggles with people who spew their negative words tearing down the work of the Lord. This is even truer in a culture with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Blogs. Negative stories, often less than half-true, spread like wild-fire and do more damage than good. The Church suffers and the Lord gets a black eye when we spread gossip and slander our fellow Christians. So the next time a story comes to you, ask yourself, “Am I being Like Christ or the dump in this situation?”