I think some rumors are created/spread to help someone fill in between dots.
We have a staff. Someone leaves unexpectedly, and no one who knows the real story is talking. But, our desire to know — our curiosity– can’t leave it alone. Something happened. There is a reason. So we start filling in the blanks.
Sometimes, it’s innocent (or naive) guesstimating. “That person never really got along with the boss and his work was never really up to par with the rest of us. Even though he’s been here the longest, maybe the Powers to Be finally just grew tired of it.”
Other times, it’s malicious. Sometimes, born out of contempt of that person. Or, some people just like to watch the world burn. Or be stirrers of poo.
But rumors happen. It’s naive to think that your church is rumor free.
What’s the craziest rumor that you’ve heard about yourself or your family?
The craziest rumor I’ve heard about my family happened about a decade ago. In 2001, I went back to Korea to attend my cousin’s wedding, with my dad. During our stay at Korea, my dad took me to the town where I grew up. He was showing me the church, our old home and places where I would go and play. Some of the places I remembered, some were fuzzy memories, and others I had no recollection of. We ran into a couple of old church members here and there, all who were ecstatic to see my dad and to see how grown up I was (the last time they saw me, I was 6.) Or so I thought. Apparently, something about the people’s reaction left a bad taste in my dad’s mouth. He didn’t tell me about until a year later, after he and my mom visited Korea.
They also went to my hometown to visit the same people that my dad and I visited. They first stopped by the convenient store that my dad and I visited. When the owner saw my parents, she dropped everything she was doing and ran towards my mom with tears in her eyes. My mom was taken back by such a strong (and warm) greeting. Then the woman said, “You’re alive!” The same sentiment was shared with everyone that my parents visited. Apparently, after we moved to America, someone, somehow spread the rumor that my mom passed away in a car accident.
So, when I went to Korea to visit my hometown, they were pitying me, thinking, “He came to see where his mom gave birth to him” etc and since my dad had no idea about the rumor, the way they treated me and looked at me, he didn’t like it, but he couldn’t put a finger on such a reception towards me, until… you know, he found out that the people thought my mom was dead.
Why on earth such a rumor was started and spread, we have no idea. But, then again, trying to figure out why any rumor started and who started it is tiring business.
I can’t tell you what to do when you hear a rumor about yourself, as a pastor or leader of your church/organization. I do know that you have to really think and pray and discern and think and pray and pray about addressing them from the pulpit.
Unfortunately, rumors will always be part of human society, if anything, born out of our desire of always wanting to know the entire story. I guess we just have to hope that people, who are close to you, know you enough to not believe every story spread by the wind. And sometimes, the best option is to keep our eyes and hearts focused on Christ, allowing him to be our shield, shielding us from arrows of stray words that have no truth or basis in them, and continue to live out Christ’s mission in us.
Otherwise, if we try to keep correcting and fighting and addressing all the rumors we hear about us, we’ll be too tired to deal with the things that really matter.
At least, that’s what I’ve heard…