I thought this went without saying, but…

When someone e-mails you or a group of people asking you to pray for still another person, just do what the person asks and don’t start rumormongering, OK?
I heard of an incident recently (if you want to assume I was involved in it somehow, go ahead) where a longtime friend e-mailed a group of people s/he thought trustworthy and knew prayed on a regular basis. S/he gave some details about the situation. I won’t go into them. I’ll just say there were a few taboos involved. The person who was suffering from the problem didn’t want this to be common knowledge.

Someone blabbed. This person’s intentions were good. At least I really want to believe this person’s intentions were good. But, as the old proverb goes, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Here’s what happened. This confidant is good friends with another friend of the person being prayed for. So this person said something to the other friend. I don’t know the content of the conversation and don’t want to. What’s important is the result of that conversation: a minor war. At that point, those good intentions were worth less than gravel.

I hope that person’s prayers were more effective than the actions.

There were sufficient details in the e-mail message to effectively pray for someone. That’s not always the case. When that happens, there’s nothing wrong with hitting reply and asking for a little more information. That’s the right way to handle it–it keeps the problem in the family, and you avoid becoming a gossip and making the problem a lot worse.

Nothing breaks up a church or a study group faster than gossip.

I did some group therapy a few years ago. Everything about it was secretive. It reminded me a lot of fraternity initiation ceremonies–so much so, that I suspect it may have been patterned after it. I’m probably saying too much by saying this, but during breaks, we’d be standing outside, then a surly guy with a booming voice would step out, announce, “Five minutes. Five minutes to the door!” Then he’d open the door, walk back inside, and lock the door behind him.

It was symbolic, but there was a purpose to it. Anything that happened inside those doors stayed inside those doors. The reason was very simple: The things that came out inside those doors would ruin those people.

Now I know why that was stated, and so frequently and blatantly.

I’m a trained journalist. As a newspaper writer, I protected my sources, because if without sources, I didn’t have a story. And since I was often writing about the same things, I found myself dialing the same phone numbers over and over. If I made a source angry, I was out of business. When a source didn’t want to be named, there was usually a reason. So I always honored that.

I’m not a newspaper writer anymore. But I’ve done my best to carry that principle over into the rest of my life, and for some reason, it turns out people like trustworthiness.

Not everyone has an experience like that in his or her past. And that’s unfortunate.

2 thoughts on “I thought this went without saying, but…

  • July 15, 2002 at 9:36 am
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    My recollection is that gossip and being a busybody is in a number of the New Testament lists of sins that include things like murder, adultery, fornication, theft, drunkenness, etc. Then there are things like being cowardly, gossip, and gluttony right there in the same lists, but seemingly not taken so seriously.

    Guess it’s just a cultural thing.

  • July 15, 2002 at 10:25 pm
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    people are funny that way. They are presented with a device that can really help their fellow man, and turn it into something mean and hateful. (Of course, a little bit of discretion goes a long way)

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