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