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Leadership in Context Episode 99 Show Notes

Keeping Secrets

Leadership in Context with Keith Tucci

Episode 099

A lot of times we put a high value on a person’s ability to keep a secret. Certainly, someone who knows how to use discretion is to be valued. But the truth is, keeping secrets almost always ends badly for someone. 

There are things that people say to you that are between you and them and need to stay that way. You have to discern when that is. However, in a ministry situation, those instances are extremely few and far between.

When someone comes to you and wants to tell you something and wants you to not tell anyone, you can’t do that. It is unscriptural. It is unwise. It is uncovenantal.

Why? First, you don’t know what they are going to tell you, so how can you agree to such a thing? Secondly, most often when people are telling you that, they are looking for help. They don’t want the information spread around, and they are trusting your discretion. My response has always been when someone wants to share something with me, “You are going to have to trust my discretion.”

After 40 years of ministry, I remember only two situations where someone wanted to tell me something and I responded that I couldn’t promise secrecy until I heard what they were going to say, and the person chose not to tell me. Only twice. 

I do not want to be put in a place where someone tells me something and I know actions that need to be taken or facts that need to be verified, and my hands are tied. I’ve seen a lot of damage done where a story has been told, not necessarily a lie, but it is based on their version of it and the other side wasn’t able to be heard out because secrecy was sworn to.

When you keep someone’s confidence, what you communicate (often unintentionally) is that you have the ability to pray, seek God, and give wisdom, when the truth is that many times things come to us and we need a Moses. In Exodus, Moses’ father-in-law instructed the people to bring the hard inquiries to Moses. 

One of the things I trained the people around me was that if they were going to be part of our team, that they could not take confidences. That doesn’t mean that you need to run and share it with someone else. But there are times that you do need to share it with another team member, if for no other reason than to know how to give counsel.

Anytime I asked my team members about a conversation that they had had, they needed to have a clear conscience to tell me what happened in that conversation. I would make that clear on the front end, when they were set into that position. 

Another reason to not hold confidences is that there might be a situation where someone really needs you to help them get help. Let’s say that you have already promised to hold a confidence for someone; what now? Go back to them and acknowledge what you agreed to, and then ask them to release you from that promise as you need to talk to someone about this to get help, or insist that they talk to someone else. That someone else might be a pastor, a lawyer, a doctor, or someone else in the body. 

Do not take confidences as a badge. It is not a good thing. Train the people around you to stay away from it. If someone trusts you enough to share information with you, they need to trust your discretion with that information.

Join us next week as Keith Tucci continues to put leadership truth in the context of the local church. And as always, please like, share, rate/review, and invite others to listen. See you next week!

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