Last week, a video went viral among Christians on social media, supposedly showing the Croatian world cup team singing worship at their hotel, in a clear display of their faith in God. When I clicked on the link sent by a friend in Kenya, I noticed that the group was singing a known Brazilian worship song in Portuguese. As it turned out, the group was from a second division football (soccer) team in the country of my birth and my Kenyan friend was caught in the fake news rumor mill.
The Age of Rumors
The so-called “rumor mill” always existed and can be found in every environment where people gather, but the internet and social media has taken rumors and gossip to a whole new level. Yes, it is easy to spread rumors in direct conversations, but it only takes one click on the “share” button to cast fake news or gossip to the four corners of the world. That was precisely how the fake story about the Croatians ended up in my social media feed.
The Biblical Leader Shuts the Mill Down
Leaders are responsible for the organizational culture whether it is in a church staff, a business, a department, youth group, volunteer team, or wherever they lead. As such, leaders are responsible for turning down the engines of the rumor mill and fighting gossip in every form. Here are three simple but powerful ways great Biblical leaders accomplish that task.
1. They Commit to the Positive. The Apostle Paul is clear when he says we should always focus on what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable (Philippians 4:8). Biblical leaders know toxic and negative attitudes can contaminate the whole team and affect vision, so they are intentional in looking for the best in people and circumstances.
2. They Check their Facts. Before publishing a particular news piece, serious journalists check the facts through multiple reliable sources and by giving all the parts involved the opportunity to express their position. Serious leaders check their facts thoroughly before forming an opinion or making a decision, especially when it involves conflict within the team.
3. They Nip Gossip in the Bud. Not all rumors are gossip, but a gossiping spirit is the fuel that propels rumors. Biblical leaders deny rumors the fuel they need to thrive. Sometimes it means being stern and direct with people on the team.
I wonder who started the singing football players’ video rumor mill. Whether it was an ill-informed person who didn’t check their facts or a malicious individual trying to spread lies, this piece of fake news doesn’t seem to have caused harm. Other rumors are not so innocent. Spreading gossip can do great damage, to the point of hurting our leadership and affecting our vision.
As leaders, we have to zeal for the integrity and the culture of our team. If you notice the rumor mill starting to run, find that “off switch” and shut it down. Your team will thank you for it, and God will be glorified.