People talk. I like to listen. Until, that is, the conversation becomes gossip. Bob was the volunteer Chairman of the Boy Scout District where I had become the new executive in Columbia County, NY. Bob kept me standing next to my car late after an evening district meeting. He wanted me to hear about everyone in the district. His stories were increasingly critical of people I was just getting to know. Holding my keys. Trying to signal the end of the conversation. He would not take the hint. Finally, I held my ear lobe and said, “Do you see this? It’s not a trash can.” Sometimes you have to stand up and speak boldly.

“And now a personal but most urgent matter; I write in the gentle but firm spirit of Christ. I hear that I’m being painted as cringing and wishy-washy when I’m with you, but harsh and demanding when at a safe distance writing letters. Please don’t force me to take a hard line when I’m present with you. Don’t think that I’ll hesitate a single minute to stand up to those who say I’m an unprincipled opportunist. Then they’ll have to eat their words.”

2 Corinthians 10:1-2 MSG