Recently, the name of a leader of an international Christian network came up. I don’t know this man, but I have heard him mentioned by several speakers and ministers who I respect. They all speak of this leader with glowing terms, obviously respecting him and holding him in a place of honour.
When his name came up, I heard a familiar voice in my head casting doubt on the accolades spoken. That voice belonged to a trusted friend who spoke negatively about this pastor in a casual conversation years ago. She did so only once, but the damage was done. I carried a shadow of an undeserved suspicion toward this man until I repented, forgave my friend, and dismissed that thought!
Those careless words spoken in a brief conversation created a subtle negative bias within me toward this man of God. To prepare for this blog, I conducted a quick search of this man and his ministry. I found nothing that would defend the accusation my friend made the day of our conversation. In fact, I could find nothing negative written about this man, a rare thing indeed in today’s world of Internet trolls and self-appointed doctrine and theology vigilantes.
In my friend’s defense, she was in a tough season and was feeling frustrated. She was searching for a place to belong in a city whose culture was far different from the community she had left behind.
I’ve been there myself. In times of frustration and disappointment, I’ve allowed words to slip out in conversation that should have never been spoken, no matter allowed to dwell in my mind.
But what about venting? Isn’t it safe to vent with a good friend? It feels good to let it rip. After all, all those toxic emotions aren’t healthy for a person. I need to get them off my chest, and once I do, I feel so much better.
My answer would be to you, venting to a friend without going to the Lord first with painful emotions is rarely safe for anyone involved.
Why? First of all, venting is the first cousin to gossip. The Bible is clear on how God feels about gossip. Second, you might feel momentarily better after venting, but that emotional release doesn’t last long. More than likely, the person to whom you vented feels like they got the equivalent of a full-on Instant Pot manual release blasting their spirit. Angry words spoken in haste leave a residue on the heart of a listener. It doesn’t matter if your listener is the object of your frustration or not.
I have noticed few people return to the friend they confided in to report that they forgave the person they were venting about. Even fewer chronic venters admit they thought about it afterwards and realised they were in the wrong.
Your words are powerful. They can build up, and they can tear down. The words you speak sow seeds. Consider what crop you would like others to harvest by spending time with you.
Ephesians 4:29 – “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
All Bible Verses, unless otherwise noted, are attributed to the NASB 1995 version
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©2021 Katherine Walden