Once when I was a teenager and had a friend visiting, my mom stepped into the doorway of my room and said, “Oh, I thought Lindsay was here. I heard you girls talking about her, so I assumed she must have joined you. Otherwise, you were just gossiping, which isn’t nice. So, unless you can say it to her, you don’t need to say it about her.”
Of course, I was embarrassed. But, I learned a valuable lesson from my mom.
“Older women likewise are meant to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips . . . so that the Word of God will not be dishonored.” Titus 2:3-5
Nothing is more harmful to relationships between women than gossip.
Picture a new believer in your church. Remember that she is dragging her suitcase full of hurts into church. The last thing she needs from her new church is the old, familiar gossip. She may think, “What’s the point? This place is like everywhere else.”
Her faith is new, but her skepticism is fully grown. She is struggling to trust the new promises she is hearing in the Word. If conversations among women in church sound like gossip, her trust in a new life with Christ may waver.
Just eight years ago, I was that woman.
As I reflected on my time as a new believer, I realized something powerful: I could not recall a single time when I heard my pastor’s wife talk about another person. I really pushed my mind to rewind the memories because I thought surely I could find a moment where gossip sneaked into our conversation. Nope. Never.
Her refusal to engage in gossip must be one of the reasons why I connected with her so easily. She began by inviting me to join her for coffee. I felt safe with her. I felt listened to. I felt like she was opening up to me, too.
Because our conversations circled around only those present, the conversations were deep and rich.
If you want to be intentional about building relationships, stick to “contact conversation.” Contact conversation means you cannot say something about another person unless you can literally reach out and touch them.
If something comes to mind about another person and you are about to speak it, picture your hand reaching out and making physical contact with the person. Can’t reach her? Can’t make contact with her? Then don’t say it. Ask the Lord to close your mouth.
Practice “contact conversation” and watch your relationships thrive.