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Someone recently challenged me, “You speak about almost every other sin, so why don’t you confront Christians on the one they seem to enjoy the most—gossip?”

 

Well, this is an excellent point, so here goes...

Back in 2002 when I was the new president of Oklahoma Wesleyan University, I inherited a college that was on the verge of financial insolvency and, according to some, 12 months away from closing. Debt was up and revenue was down. Budgets weren’t balanced and people were scared and, as often is the case, many were filling a leadership vacuum with vice more than virtue and with bickering more than benevolence.

So, I did what any naive young leader would do. I decided to confront those who were misbehaving—those who were speaking ill of others, those who were gossiping.

Well, I soon learned that “hell hath no fury like a gossiper scorned” and that if you want to witness a belching contest of the most absurd accusations, all you need to do is cross those in power who claim to believe in the Power of the Cross.

In the midst of this dysfunction I was sitting at my desk one day, licking my wounds, and I looked up and found C. B. Colaw (the senior sage of OKWU who had been on the board for nearly 50 years) standing in my doorway. Hearing of the whooping I was getting at the hands of the sanctified he had graciously taken the time to stop by to encourage his young new protégé with a simple bit of advice. “Mr. President,” he said, “don’t’ respond to them - just be quiet.”

In those few words, C. B. made his point crystal clear. First, if you’re not rattling you won’t be suspected of being a snake and, second, when you’re not talking—if you’re just quiet— if you don’t respond to it, gossip suffocates for lack of the oxygen this firey sin so craves.