Taming the Tongue: Delighting Grace Interviews Matthew C. Mitchell

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I love it when I get to interview authors of books that really matters for Christians. Not just helping to make some buzz out of it, but also view the author and the book in a different angle that will glorify God and edify believers. This time around, Ptr. Matthew answers some questions about himself and his book “Resisting Gossip”.

Delighting Grace: Pastor Matthew, thank you for this opportunity. You wrote a book that is kind of a “novelty” if compare to other works. Some will take on subjects like doctrine of grace or leadership. So why a book about gossip?

Matthew C. Mitchell: Thanks, Nitoy, for having me on your blog!
Yes, it’s true that there aren’t that many other books on the problem of gossip–and yet it’s something that we all deal with nearly every single day! So, it seemed to me that Christians needed a book like Resisting Gossip to answer the sticky questions that we all have and help us to get unstuck. I wanted to address questions like:
What is gossip?
How do you know when you’re gossiping?
What makes it wrong?
What do you do if you are the target of a malicious whispering campaign?
Why do we gossip?
How do we stop doing it?
The Bible has answers for those questions, but not enoughChristians know them. Hopefully, readers of Resisting Gossip will now be better equipped to recognize, resist, and respond to gossip in every day life.

Delighting Grace: You acknowledge people from CCEF in the book. So how was it like being under the wings of David Powlison, Ed Welch etc? Who among them really influence you in pastoral ministry?

Matthew C. Mitchell: Yes, I have been profoundly influenced by the ministry of CCEF, especially the faculty like David and Ed. It started with reading their books and blogs, but eventually I had the chance to study directly with them in the Doctor of Ministry program at Westminster Theological Seminary. I had always said that if I did a D.Min, I’d want it to be a “doctorate in wisdom.” I already had my dream job. I wasn’t doing a doctoral program to build my credentials or to make a career move–I just wanted to grow in wisdom. To me, the CCEF model of biblical counseling and sanctification is wisdom–truth applied to life.

I’m sure glad that I did! Taking classes at WTS was like drinking from the fire-hose. For two weeks back-to-back, we took classes in waves from Professors Powlison, Lane, Welch, Emlet, and Smith for 10 hours a day! We did that two years in a row and then researched and wrote our projects. My favorite part was getting up close to the faculty and being able to ask more in-depth questions. It’s a privilege to have gotten to know them better. I’m especially thankful for Winston Smith’s oversight of my doctoral project on gossip and Ed Welch’s encouragement throughout the process and writing the foreword for Resisting Gossip.

Delighting Grace: Wow thats amazing. You said in your book that your church is not a gossiping church. So will your approach or perspective with the book differ if your church has this nasty habit?

Matthew C. Mitchell: Good question. What I meant by that was that I didn’t have to write it from a difficult vantage point–it wasn’t written to solve our problems at Lanse Free Church, so I didn’t have to guard my words or worry that I was writing out of my frustrations or hurt. Hopefully that makes it even more helpful for a pastor whose church is embroiled in gossip. My hope is that the book is full of biblical teaching that can be directly applied whether or not a particular church is in conflict.
In fact, the book is not written primarily for pastors–but for ordinary Christ followers. The primary audience I had in mind was ordinary Christians who didn’t want to fall into the sin of gossip, but didn’t know how to resist. There is a also bonus chapter for church leaders on how to cultivate a gossip resistant church family.
I’m pleased to be hearing from pastors whose churches have been helped already by reading the book.

Delighting Grace: Some may say that gossip viewed in the work place or in church involves particularly women. What’s your comment on that?

Matthew C. Mitchell: Women definitely struggle with this temptation! That’s why Paul left instructions about gossipy ladies in the pastoral epistles (1 Tim 3:11, 5:13, Titus 2:3, etc).
But it’s not only women who are tempted by gossip either. It was the out-of-work brothers in Thessalonica who were idle and being busybodies (2 Thess 3:11). Gossip is a temptation for both genders.
I think that people who are more wordy are more prone. In our marriage, I’m the talker. I have twenty times more words than my wife does, and I’m twenty times (or more) more tempted to gossip than she is. “When words are many, sin is not absent, buthe who holds his tongue is wise” (Prov 10:19), and that’s true for both men and women.

Delighting Grace: A pastor once said to me, Christians sometimes are worse in gossiping than unbelievers. Any insight on that opinion?

Matthew C. Mitchell: I don’t know. I can’t point to any social science data toeither support or refute that claim. I can say that we Christians should certainly know better and do better.

Delighting Grace: Thank you Ptr. Matthew. It so great to have this interview with you. Now its time to invite our readers to get you book and log on to your blog.

Matthew C. Mitchell: Thanks! My blog is matt-mitchell.blogspot.com, and the book is available in lots of places including CLC Philippines.

Delighting Grace: Any parting words for the readers out there?

Matthew C. Mitchell: It was enjoyable interacting with you, Nitoy. Thanks for the opportunity to tell others about Resisting Gossip. As we grow in Him, may the Lord grab hold of our hearts and keep a reign on our tongues!

Delighting Grace: Pastor Matthew’s book “Resisting Gossip” is a great read. Its available online at http://www.clcphilippines or go to your nearest CLC Bookshop, PCBS, OMF Lit shops and National Bookstore. If you read the book, say Hi to him by dropping an e-mail or checking his blog. I Would like to leave you guys a familiar passage in the Bible that has something to do with gossip:

“And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell. “(James 3: 6 KJV)

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