Lessons from the Lunch Lady: Talebearer Troubles

You shall not go about as a talebearer among your people; nor shall you take a stand against the life of your neighbor: I am the Lord. ~ Leviticus 19:16

“What did she say?”

I felt a deep sigh fill up my diaphragm. We were finishing up at work, making sure the kitchen was in order, the lights were off and everything was put away for tomorrow.
One of the women I work with was having a Halloween party over the weekend and I needed to tell her I wouldn’t be able to go. When we finally crossed paths I briefly explained I couldn’t make it and apologized.
As we were talking, another woman caught the 10-second exchange and was curious to know what was said. The sigh sputtered out of me like a two-day old birthday party balloon under a table.
Can’t we just do our work? I gave my curious co-worker a brief explanation and headed into the teachers’ lounge to finish up.

tale·bear·er: a person who spreads gossip, secrets that may cause trouble or harm to others.

As I struggled with this at work, God brought to my attention an example from His word. Just a couple days later I taught about Paul’s experience with gossip and talebearers in my 2nd and 3rd grade Sunday school class.

We’re learning about the early church in the book of Acts, and in Chapter 21, verses 26-40 we read about Paul getting arrested after being falsely accused of bringing a Gentile into the temple. Though the tale told by the Asian Jews wasn’t true, Paul was still arrested, beaten and taken into custody by Roman soldiers. 

I’ve learned the hard way that if I don’t clarify what was said, a twisting tale can be birthed in someone’s imagination, a harmless thought or curiosity that’s blown up into a troublesome tale. Sometimes it’s not harmless, but instead provoked by anger or insecurity.

“A talebearer reveals secrets, but he who is of a faithful spirit conceals a matter.” ~ Proverbs 11:13

Just like the cursing I regularly hear, the talebearer troubles wear on me.

One of the blessings in my work environment is the near-constant noise, which acts as the perfect buffer for words that burn my ear drums and soul and for gossipy conversations. I’ve also found that a one-shouldered shrug and zipped lips are the best response when someone is digging for information or gossip.

As a Christ-follower I press daily toward the goal of walking faith-fully in my Savior’s footsteps, but I fall short often, missing His foosteps and tripping over myself and my sin. Sometimes I find myself wrapped up tightly in talebearer troubles at work, when just a few words or a funny joke can turn into something that grieves the Holy Spirit and clouds my witness.

At work – and in every area of my life – I don’t want to be known as talebearer causing trouble. I pray for discernment and restraint with my words and my lips. I’m so grateful that the well of Grace provided by our Creator was filled full and overflowing at Calvary.

“In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is wise.” ~ Proverbs 10:19


2 thoughts on “Lessons from the Lunch Lady: Talebearer Troubles

  1. That is probably the hardest thing to avoid nowadays. It’s almost like you can’t have a conversation with someone without talking about someone else. It’s crazy. I love to talk, so I definitely need to be reminded of that last verse often. One thing I notice is that God always makes a way out of the conversation when someone is gossiping to me. Good for you for taking that way out. May God continue to shine His light through you in your workplace.

    • Hi Amanda,

      Thanks for stopping by, and that’s so very true. It is very tough to stay out of the gossip loop, with friends and with those around us. I’m learning to listen to the Holy Spirit to discern that boundary between care-filled conversation and self-filled gossip. Funny enough, there have been times when my phone started acting up when I’ve crossed that line! God will direct us and convict our hearts – and just like you said, He always give us a way out – even if it’s a bad cell connection! 🙂

      I hope you have a blessed weekend!

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