PROGRAM W-1795 – Part I
These Fran stories are fiction—which teach biblical principles. Fran is a single mom with two school-age children. Her husband was tragically killed in an auto accident several years ago now, so Fran went back into the working world in order to support her children. It was quite an adjustment, as you can imagine, but through these years she has been learning to trust Jesus in every area of her life. We have watched as she has learned the joy of practicing the presence of Jesus—yes, even on her job.
When we accept Christ as our Savior, we have the Holy Spirit with us all the time. We don’t have to pretend that he is with us; he is with us—the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead. But often we seem to forget that Jesus is with us and we act like we’re in this struggle all by ourselves and must figure everything out on our own. That’s when we get into trouble. My prayer is that these stories about Fran will help all of us learn to appreciate and practice the presence of Jesus in our lives at all times.
Let’s get to this episode of Fran and Jesus.
As she arrives at work this Tuesday morning, Fran goes for a cup of coffee where she runs into her friend, Andy.
“How’s your wife feeling?” Fran asks. She knows his wife is diabetic and struggles with it.
“Oh, she’s doing a little better lately, thanks for asking,” Andy replies. “When she follows the right diet and gets some exercise, she really gets along pretty well.”
“I’m sure that’s not so easy to do all the time,” Fran replies.
They exchange a little more small-talk and then Andy says, “Hey, by the way, did you know that Bill Best is leaving the company?”
“No kidding?” Fran says. “Bill Best? Why?”
“I’m not sure, but the gossip is that he was told to resign or be fired,” Andy answers. “Don’t quote me on this, of course, but that’s what I hear from the guys up in our department. It’s a real shocker.”
“But he’s VP of human resources and he’s been here, what, twenty years or more,” Fran asks. “Why would they ask him to resign? He is a very nice person.”
“Well, again,” Andy responds, “this is only what I’ve heard, but one of the guys said Bill was caught in some unethical dealings—something to do with purchasing stock and having inside information. I heard he was threatened with criminal prosecution, but they’re letting him off easy.”
“Are you sure, Andy?” Fran asks. “That’s really hard to believe of Bill. I mean, he seems like the most honest guy in the world.”
“I know,” Andy says, “that’s what I said. But like one of the guys said, sometimes looks can fool you. You can’t always judge a book by its cover, right?”
“Well, we shouldn’t jump to conclusions either,” Fran says.
“Yeah,” Andy says, “but you know what I mean. You can’t always tell what’s on the inside by looking at the outside.”
“If this is true,” Fran says, “this is going to ruin Bill. And he has such a nice family. I met them at the picnic last year. Do you really think it’s true, Andy?”
“Like I said, it’s what I heard, but these guys are usually pretty savvy when it comes to inside information. And where there’s smoke, there’s usually fire, Fran. Maybe you can find out more about it down there where you work. But I gotta run. You have a great day; I’ll talk to you later.”
As she goes back to her office, Fran is really concerned about this bad news. Bill has been very nice to her and seemed to think highly of her. He had asked her to be a part of a task force last year representing marketing, and she had an opportunity at lunch one day to tell him about her faith in Christ. In fact, she’s been praying for him. Wow, this is very shocking news!
At lunch she tells Louise what Andy told her. Louise is her good friend, also a believer, and they share a lot.
“Can you believe it, Louise? Bill Best of all people—caught red-handed in an unethical stock transaction. Something about inside information. Andy said they could have prosecuted him if they had chosen to, so they’re doing him a favor letting him resign.”
“My goodness,” Louise responds, “I find that hard to believe. Bill is one of the nicest people in this whole company. Are you sure Andy got his story straight, Fran?”
“Well, I asked him several times, and he seemed pretty certain that his source was reliable. Of course, we don’t know for sure but. . .”
“But those things don’t get started on their own,” Louise fills in. “You just never know, do you Fran?”
“No, I guess not,” Fran replies. “There’s that old greedy sin nature again, and even nice people can fall victims to greed. Without Jesus, Louise, we’re capable of anything.”
They talk a few more minutes and head back to work. Later that day, another coworker, Ray from accounting, stops into Fran’s office. “Hey, Fran, I’ve got some questions on this latest invoice from Stranton. Can you help me?”
“Sure,” she says and together they spend a few minutes straightening out the invoice. As Ray is starting to leave, Fran says, “Ray, did you hear about Bill Best?”
“Yeah, isn’t that a bummer?” he says. “Bill’s one of the good guys; I really hate to see him leave. Wonder why he’s leaving after all these years? He’s too young to retire.”
“You mean you haven’t heard?” Fran asks.
“Nope, I’m just a bean counter, Fran, nobody talks to me,” he laughs at himself.
“Well, the inside scoop is that he’s been caught in an unethical stock deal and they’re doing him a favor to let him resign,” Fran informs Ray.
“No way,” he responds in shock.
‘”Well, that’s just what I’ve heard, Ray, so don’t quote me, but it sure seems like it. You know, Ray, even the good ones can fall,” Fran continues. “Money is a corrupter.”
“Wait ’til I tell Joan. You know, Joan, my manager. She thinks Bill Best is god practically. Oh, man, this is going to wipe her out. Well, I better run,” he says as he leaves her office, in a bit of a rush.
As he’s walking out the door, Fran calls out to him, “Oh, Ray, maybe you shouldn’t tell anyone until we know for sure. . .” But it was too late; Ray was out of earshot.
Fran sits at her desk and thinks about all this. She feels badly about saying anything to Ray. She should have told him not to tell anyone. Well, she thinks, he’ll just tell Joan and that’s as far as it’ll get, I’m sure. Then, thinking again about Bill, she says out loud to herself, “Wow, how quick a good person can fall.”
“Yes, it’s true, isn’t it?” Jesus replies.
Once again, she’s forgotten that Jesus is there, but he always, always is.
“It’s true how fast things can fall apart,” he adds.
It makes Fran a bit uneasy. But she has lots to get done, so she buries those uneasy feelings in work and, before she knows it, the day is about over. As she is getting ready to leave her office, her friend, Josey from the Marketing Department, stops by. “Hey, you wouldn’t have time for a cup of coffee before you go home, would you?” she asks. It’s a strange request and she looks troubled.
Fran looks at her watch. “Well, I’ve got about fifteen minutes—is that enough?”
“Sure,” Josey answers, “we can go to McDonald’s across the street.”
As they sit down, Josey says, “You heard about Bill Best.”
“Yeah,” Fran replies. “Very sad, isn’t it?”
“You know, Fran, he hired me fifteen years ago, and the man’s been like a father to me. It’s just killing me to think he’s been caught in something unethical.”
“How’d you hear about it?” Fran asks.
“Joan told me—you know, Joan in accounting,” she says.
“Oh,” Fran replies, and she realizes that Joan probably learned it from Ray, who learned it from Fran, who learned it from Andy. Suddenly, Fran gets that queasy feeling in her stomach again. She has to face the reality that she’s become the source of gossip and she’s not even sure of her facts.
‘Well,” she stammers to Josey, “maybe it’s not as bad as it sounds. There are two sides to every story, you know.”
“Fran, Joan wouldn’t tell me something like that if she didn’t know for sure,” Josey says. Fran’s stomach does another somersault. “She said it has something to do with stock and inside information. She said he made a bundle of money just before the company went through that downsizing last year and they caught him.”
“But we don’t know that for sure,” Fran tries to back pedal and stop the gossip before it goes any further. “I mean, it’s just a rumor at this point, right?”
“Did you see Bill today, Fran?” Josey asks. “He looked like death warmed over. It was written all over his face. He wouldn’t even look me in the eye when he walked past me, and he was in a rush to get out. It’s true, Fran.”
“But we don’t know for sure,” she says again, lamely and sadly. They talk a few more minutes and then part. Fran is now feeling very sick to her stomach. As soon as she gets home from work, she dials Andy as quickly as possible. No answer; just voicemail. After she gets the kids’ supper ready and has them eating, she excuses herself and calls again. He answers this time.
“Oh, hi, Fran.” Andy starts.
“Andy, are you sure of your facts that you told me about Bill Best? Do you know for sure he was accused of unethical behavior?” she verbally accosts him.
“What?” Andy is caught off guard. “Why? What’s the problem?”
“Well, you just shouldn’t be telling me things like that if they’re not true,” Fran keeps going, with anger in her voice.
“Fran, I told you it was what I had heard from the guys upstairs,” Andy defends himself. “Besides, I told you not to tell anyone else. You didn’t, did you?”
“You never told me that, Andy!” Fran exclaims. “Yes, I told some people.”
“Oh, good grief, Fran, why’d you do that?” Andy is upset. “Who’d you tell?”
“Well, that’s not the point,” she says. “The point is you never should have told me if it weren’t the truth.”
“Hey, Fran, I told you that in confidence,” Andy says. “I didn’t tell another soul about it but you, and I expected you to have more sense than to blab it to everybody else in the company. I’m sure I told you not to tell anyone.”
“Oh, right,” Fran says, “blame it all on me. I don’t believe it!”
“Hey, mom, what’s the matter?” Drew has come into the family room as he hears his mom upset.
“Nothing, Drew,” she answers him in frustration. “Just go back and finish dinner and mind your own business.”
“Well, don’t take it out on him,” Andy says, as he hears all that from his end of the phone.
“Thanks a lot, Andy, but I don’t need any advice on how to raise my kids. Good-bye!” she says.
Whoa! And how did all this start? With gossip.
Solomon was right when he wrote, “A gossip separates close friends” (Proverbs 16:28b). Look how quickly it has driven a wedge between Fran and Andy. In fact, there are many terrible consequences that are caused by gossip:
- Gossip betrays a confidence. (Proverbs 11:13)
- Gossip causes quarrels. (Proverbs 26:20)
- Gossip ruins reputations.
- Gossip often causes irreparable damage.
I’m fairly certain that everyone can think of some specific harm that has happened to them or to someone they know because of gossip.
Fran got involved in this gossip innocently. She didn’t have malicious intentions, but at several points in the day, her tongue got ahead of her brain and she told a story which was neither verified for accuracy, nor was it necessary for anyone to know, whether accurate or not. Her tongue was out of control, and she ignored several nudges along the way when Jesus was trying to get her attention before she spread the rumors she had heard.
Now, the situation at work is not a pretty picture because gossip is not pretty. I’m really praying that God will use this story to convict all of us about our propensity to gossip.
Note this verse from Ephesians 4:29: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Let’s pray that verse into our lives so that our gossip is stopped dead in its tracks!