Ep. 450 How To Talk Behind Someone’s Back

Ep. 25 How To Talk Behind Someone’s Back

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Shows Main Idea – How to talk behind someone’s back is a relevant topic that has many biblical layers. There is a way to share things about others while guarding your heart and the character of the person you’re talking about outside of their presence. I want to address the right and wrong of talking about others while laying out a plan to address the person you’re talking about to help them change if that is what you need to do.

Show Notes

You may want to read:

Dilemma: It’s impossible to live in this world and not talk about other people outside their presence. If you have been talking today, you probably mentioned the name of someone who was not part of the conversation. It could be a family member, a friend’s name, a celebrity, a sports figure, or a politician.

Motive: The most critical issue you want to address when talking about someone behind their back is your heart’s motive. The motivation of your heart is the watershed issue that will send you in a biblical or non-biblical direction.

Verse: “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear” (Ephesians 4:29). Our communication should build up the person we’re talking to and not diminish the person we’re talking about, or we will make the problem worse.

Accountable: It would be humble and wise to speak with someone about how they hear you. The concern is not so much any episodes of unwholesome speech from you, though there should be repentance if there is sin. How would your friend characterize your speech patterns?

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#1: Who to Talk to

Who do you talk to about others? Here are two options.

  1. Spouse: I don’t share counseling information with Lucia—at her request.
    • Lucia has a particular kind of soul, and it does not serve her to hear so much junk from the world.
    • I do pollution control. I want to screen the contaminants that could increase Lucia’s soul noise.
      • It’s like having a filter on a computer; you’re not hiding something but filtering something; I’m not hiding things from her but caring for her soul.
    • Sometimes I ask her things because I’m not omniscient, and she’s a trusted confidant, another set of eyes and ears. I fully trust her and her opinions; she sees things differently from me, leveraging my assets and assuring better solutions.
  2. Mentor: I will talk to a mentor but resist discussing things about others with horizontal relationships that are not part of the problem.
    • The mentor is trustworthy and has discretion, competency, and courage.

#2: Guarding Hearts

  1. Guard your spouse or mentor against thinking poorly of the person or ensure they don’t struggle with the information you give them.
    • I hear things in counseling that I must die with because the information does not serve my wife.
  2. Guard the reputation of the offending person.
    • We are the body of Christ, and it’s not wise to spread a person’s sin among the body.
    • The person may repent, and if you have broadcasted their sin, some folks will never hear the rest of the story and always consider them as the sinner with a specific sin problem.

#3: Helping the Sinner

  1. Was it a sin?
    • Do you have biblical sin categories?
    • Was it a big or small sin?
  2. Is it an episode or pattern?
  3. Can you overlook the offense?
    • Parents are great at overlooking sins because they see the child’s trajectory and believe this season will pass.
    • You do not want to die on every mountain.
  4. Do you have the time, context, and competence to help this person?
    • Is the person in your local church (or sphere of influence)?

#4: Rules of Engagement

  1. What would be your purpose?
    • Redemption is the most crucial purpose for engaging them.
  2. Are you trying to punish the person?
    • Sometimes some folks engage because they are punitive; their motivations are wrong.
  3. Are you over-protective of your reputation when someone sins against you, so you engage when you should have overlooked it?
  4. Do you struggle with fear of man?
    • Thus, your craving for approval and acceptance inhibits you from letting some things go and making your engagement wrong.
  5. Can you walk that person through the problem redemptively?

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Call to Action

We can talk about people behind their backs. As we do this, we must address our motives for doing so, and if our motivations are as pure as they can be, we want to determine further if there is more we need to do for the person we’re talking about.

  1. It might prove a good exercise to work through the questions I’ve asked in these Show Notes.
  2. Are you a gossip? If so, will you make a plan to change, including securing an accountability partner to help you?
  3. Think about the last few times you talked behind someone’s back. Did you have redemption in view? Were your motives as pure as they could be?
  4. How do you respond to someone who is gossiping to you? Do you struggle with fear of man, permitting them to continue to gossip to you about someone? If so, will you make a plan to change?

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