“Ask a Priest: Should I Leave a Job to Avoid Workplace Gossip?”

Q: I’m wondering if it’s wrong to stay at my job when it seems to be an occasion of sin for me. I’m a married woman, a mother of seven. I’ve been working part-time at my job for more than 20 years. I’m trying to live a good Catholic life. I pray the rosary, and go to weekday Mass, confession, adoration. I work in a hospital and I get to provide care for people and sometimes even pray with them. The problem comes with getting caught up with the latest gossip that goes around the department. I can sometimes stay out of it but not always, and it makes me feel bad. Also, I work very late shifts, and that can affect my prayer life. I’m older and I have a chronic disease so I’m not sure I could find another job. I have to keep working until my last two kids are out of school. I don’t want to offend God. Please, any thoughts on this? – J.G.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: God bless you and your big family! It sounds as though you have gone to great efforts to provide for your family. And even with such a busy life you make ample time for prayer, the sacraments and Eucharistic adoration. All this has likely been a great source of grace and helped you to keep so much on your plate.

As to your question, the issue here seems to be how to deal with this environment of gossip.

My guess is that quitting this job won’t solve the problem. Gossip is a common problem in many workplaces. Wherever you end up working, you might face the same basic problem.

The better path might be to see this as an opportunity for you to evangelize your co-workers. You can do this by cultivating the habit of speaking well of others and to try to change the topic of conversation whenever anyone starts bad-mouthing someone else.

By cultivating this habit you can help to lift the spirits of those around you and give a great witness to your faith.

This habit won’t take root overnight, so be patient with yourself. As part of your prayer each day you could do a short examen of conscience and ask yourself one question: How did I speak of others today? Did my words give glory to God? Did I say things that would boost my co-workers?

This habit won’t take root overnight, so be patient with yourself. As part of your prayer each day you could do a short examen of conscience and ask yourself one question: How did I speak of others today? Did my words give glory to God? Did I say things that would boost my co-workers? To delve more deeply into developing virtue in this area, you might find it useful to read our Regnum Christi Essay on the topic: Sharpening Your Tongue.

Concentrate on that one habit and you can help bring a marvelous change to the hospital staff. This in turn could produce a climate that benefits the patients, too. For it’s fitting that a place dedicated to physical healing is also a place conducive to spiritual well-being.

Stay close to the Blessed Virgin Mary and ask her help in your crusade to lift the conversations at work.

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