2 Timothy 2: 16 Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly.
Teams search to find team chemistry, the ability to produce something greater as a team than the sum of the individual parts. While it can take significant time to develop team chemistry, it is surprisingly easy to destroy it. An article entitled: “Five Harmful Habits that Destroy Team Chemistry”, lays out the sure-fire ways to kill a team. The first harmful habit listed caught my attention – Gossip. “Teams that gossip never get anything done because they are too busy talking about what is going on instead of working together towards a common goal. It’s the biggest distraction for any team that is trying to stay on the same page because it steers players away from what is important to the team’s success.”
Being on a team can be extremely stressful. You gather a large number of players together, with often significantly different personalities, backgrounds, values etc., and you expect them to not only get along, but thrive together. Naturally some players stand out and irritate others, and soon players begin to talk about them behind their backs and isolate these players. Such gossip, unchecked, can grow and like a cancer begins to destroy team chemistry. Such talk is fruitless and mature athletes, and coaches need to address gossip at the very beginning before it grows.
Gossiping is nothing new; it has been around for as long as sinful people have populated this earth. Proverbs 16:28 says: “A perverse person stirs up conflict, and a gossip separates close friends.” Paul instructed his student Timothy to: “Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly.” (2 Timothy 2: 16) As much as it is painfully obvious in scripture that gossip is at best unhelpful, and at worst sinful, if we are honest with ourselves it is easy to get caught up in it. “Can you believe what Sarah said?” “Did you hear what Mike did after the game?” Our ears perk up and we listen intently and not much later we share the news with others.
As much as gossip is a potential stumbling block, it can also be an opportunity for witness. I don’t want to suggest that I’ve mastered this area in my life, but It’s probably an area where I have not had to struggle too much. Years ago, at work, a co-worker was gossiping about another, and I didn’t participate and made some positive comment about that person. My co-worker’s response was “don’t you ever say anything bad about anyone?” Just like that the door opened wide for me to say, “I’m just a screw-up saved by grace, so who am I to criticize someone else.” That led to an opportunity to share my faith with a co-worker.
If you find yourself speaking poorly of others, initiating or perpetuating gossip, it is probably a good idea to test your heart. How is your heart towards Jesus? Jesus said: “The good man brings good things out of the good treasure of his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil treasure of his heart. For out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:45). Any time I found that I was trending towards godless chatter, I examined the root cause and it was always a heart issue. I was not close to God, spending time in his word, allowing him to sanctify me. As soon as I dealt with the root cause, I found it more natural to speak well of others, rather than participating in godless chatter.