Confidentiality is Queen

People assume that because I’m a pastor’s wife, I know everything my pastor hubby, Brad, knows.

Not true.

When we started this journey of being a pastor and pastor’s wife, I told him, “Do not tell me other people’s junk.” …and I gave him the look. You know, the one that means- I’m serious.

Confidentiality is a huge deal to me. Probably because I have been burned by loose tongues. Not in a detrimental, scandalous way that sent me running from church (which does happen to people). No, for me, it’s more subtle. I find out that someone told their husband something that I shared with them. Because, you know, they’re married and they had that whole “till death do we share secrets” part of the vows.

I may have shared that because I wanted you to bear my burden with me, not because I wanted Church Member #3 or your niece to bear it, too.

Don’t hear me wrong here. I’m not saying you should have personal secrets from your husband, like a secret ‘what-if’ wad of cash, unconfessed sin, or harbored hurt feelings. I’m talking about someone else’s secrets.

But not just secrets. In fact, I think anytime you open your mouth to talk about someone else, you should seriously consider whether that is something they would want you to be sharing.

“Oh, but she would want you to know! She’d tell you herself!” is not a valid excuse to share someone’s details. “She told me to share this with you” is.

And that’s what we do. If someone has explicitly told Brad to share something with me, whether it’s a prayer request, a testimony, or something they are struggling with, he does. Otherwise, he does not share that information with me. If the person wanted me to know, they would tell me.

However, so many people believe that I am in the 100% know about anything church related (including members), that someone will start saying something like, “You know how we’re doing that thing on the 8th?” Or, “You know how so-and-so was evicted?” Um… no. And no.

Ladies, let’s face it – the latter example above will happen. Someone intentionally or unintentionally will start to open their mouth and spill it. And the sinful, spiteful part of my gut is ready to devour the scandals. If I hear that a conversation is going that direction, I put a halt to it preemptively.

Will you commit to doing this with me – in love?

If you hear it coming, why not say, “OK, before you finish, do you mind if I ask you not to share something personal about someone else? I just don’t want to know something that I really shouldn’t.” (Or how about, “I’m a juicy gossiper and won’t be able to stand it if you squeal!” Ha.)

Understand, that when I’ve done this (in a trying-to-be-gentle-about-it-way), I have had people backpedal. “Oh no! I was just going to say that…” Or “But she’s so sweet” (Because being sweet makes you forgivable apparently.)

Just have grace for them and for yourself. Stop being self-righteous and instead accept the Spirit’s reminder that you are daily confining your own tongue. And only in His power.

A perverse person spreads dissension, and a gossip  separates the closest friends. (Proverbs 16:28, NETBible)

Likewise also their wives must be dignified, not slanderous, temperate, faithful in every respect. (1 Timothy 3:11, NETBible, qualifications of a deacon)

12 thoughts on “Confidentiality is Queen

  1. Claire Harvey

    Stephanie! I love this post. I used to think Andy is not telling me things and then I was on the other side where all my information was told to someone and they told me they would be praying for me. I remember thinking…WHAT?? How do you know?
    I will be honest and say this is something that I struggle with…I think it is a constant battle but I will try to pledge with you that I will put a halt on it.
    Maybe I should tell Andy the same thing you told Brad…because I really don’t want to or need to know everything they know.
    Great post and Thanks for the reminder!

    1. Stephanie Post author

      Definitely get on the same page about it – it helps to have the conversation in advance! Thanks for being honest about it being a struggle – it’s hard! But you can do it; and you will see that the less you know, the less you will crave that knowledge.

  2. mrspastor

    I love your point. It is a blessing to me NOT to know people’s stuff. Every once in a while I do – because they call our house or something – and it’s heavy for me. And it’s hard for me not to pass it on thoughtlessly. I’m with you. Thanks for the challenge/encouragement.

  3. Holly Dennis

    Michael and I totally do the same thing! and it’s so good for me! So often sin is crouching there… waiting to devour me in knowing/talking about/gossiping about someone elses junk and it’s so good to just not know! And to truthfully say to others “I have no idea what your referring to!’ 🙂

  4. Mel

    Great post! Yes, ministry can sometimes feel like a big vault of secrets, but these are not juicy details – they are real peoples lives. And people are messy! We all are.
    We all need grace daily. And knowing those details is burdensome because they do have to be kept to yourself and you must process that information on your own. I wouldn’t wish that same burden on another! It’s wonderful that you and Brad have come to that understanding.

    I’ve definitely been on the receiving end of someone spreading something I had said – out of context even! – and it’s not pretty. Feelings were hurt and I had to work very hard to explain my words in the proper context. Luckily, the person came to me quickly to resolve the conflict. But what if they hadn’t? That relationship would have been damaged and I never would have known the cause! I shudder to think of how many relationships have been impacted because of gossip.

    Before we open our mouths we should seriously consider if we would repeat that same information if the person were standing right next to us.

    1. Stephanie Post author

      It most definitely IS a burden! I’m thankful Brad has other pastors who can share that burden with him.

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