Who do you tell? What should you tell? When should you tell? As a secret life begins to unravel it is difficult to know what to say, when to say it and to whom you should tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
When pastors start revealing secret struggles they are easily trapped by dangerous extremes of the “talking” spectrum. Unloading everything to everyone and suffering in silence are the two destructive ends of the pendulum. Either of these extremes is usually a dead end path. Both are likely to destroy relationships and careers and both usually complicate the already complicated issues a pastor is trying to face. Seldom is it best to tell no one anything or to tell everyone everything.
One young pastor acted on a long dormant addiction the same day of his regular church Board meeting. After acting out he entered the evening Board meeting filled with remorse, guilt and shame. He wept as he told them everything. It was a tough meeting. As he went home this fateful night he not only had to tell his pregnant wife with two small children he had behaved miserably, he had to tell her he no longer had a job. Careful consideration and experienced guidance may well have brought better results. If you know who to tell, when to tell and what to tell you can advance your personal life and may even salvage your career.
The other extreme is trying to solve it on your own. Most clergy try too long to battle through personal pain and failure. We ask, “Who would understand?” “Wouldn’t the District Superintendent hold it against me?” “Would she still love me?” Our self protective natures and healthy fear mixes with our natural inclination to hide our flaws and we become locked by secrecy in addictive processes we loathe. Denial gradually but powerfully blinds us, hopelessness settles in and there is no apparent way out. The isolating chains of silence increase our pain, build the walls of our bondage higher and the sins we repeatedly admit to God enslave us ever more profoundly. Only telling the truth will set us free.
If you and the Lord have been struggling for a long time, talking, battling, confessing and sinning again, it is likely time to stop the denial train from hurtling on its fixed tracks toward destruction and get off by telling the truth. Anyone, minister or church member, who seeks real spiritual freedom must learn to tell the truth to safe people who care. Even the spiritual life of minister’s is not designed to produce genuine freedom when the minister thinks he and God can solve repeated sin or addictions “alone”. Isolation is a violation of all of the principles of Body Life in the New Testament. The truth does not set us free if we refuse to tell it.
A guiding recovery principle is we need to tell all the truth we must tell to get the help we need and then we may choose to tell all those we choose to tell to give them the help they need. But, every situation is different and the constraints on ministers talking are real. You and God won’t solve what he has asked you to humbly share with another human being.
To tell the truth and receive guidance regarding who to tell what when contact Dale by clicking here. Individual guidance regarding who to tell, what to tell and when to tell it is waiting for you.
Patty Beckham says
Finding safe people who care is a virtual impossibility these days.