I can hear my Mama right now, rocking back and forth on the porch of that old tin-roof house I grew up in. Spouting forth wisdom that only life experiences give you...Be careful who you tell your business to. Some folks are like old refrigerators...can't keep nothing!
If you've ever had someone to tell your business, after they swore they wouldn't, I know you're feeling me! It's happen to me a few times in my life and I have to admit that I've not always done well keeping my mouth shut either! Not that intentional hurt and pain was ever the motive. It's just hard for women in particular (although men do it too) to keep from sharing!
So, since this is a new year and we're all about starting off fresh, I thought these tips might do wonders for your present relationships and keep you from re-living the fallouts from old ones destroyed because you just couldn't keep your mouth shut!
Let me start with a disclaimer: There are some secrets that shouldn't be kept, like when they are hiding sin! If a person is being hurt or there is physical and/or emotional harm being done, especially as it concerns children, you have a Christian moral responsibility to tell someone! It is the same for the knowledge of criminal activities. No matter how difficult! Your neighbor may never forgive you but God will and you just might prevent something more destructive from happening. We ARE our brother's keeper and it's only a matter of time before the problems going on next door becomes yours! (Prov. 28:13; Is. 1:18)
Believe it or not the bible is pretty ambivalent about secrets. Both the Old and New Testaments give many examples of secrets kept for noble causes. Joseph kept his identity secret from his brothers (Gen. 42) only to care for his family during a famine. King Saul's son Jonathan kept David's whereabouts secret to keep Saul from killing him ( I Sam. 19-20). Rahab hid the Israelite spies in Jericho and was honored later in scripture as one of God's Faithful (Heb. 11:31). Even Jesus healed and cautioned His own disciples to keep quiet about His mission? (Mark 8:27-30; Matthew. 8:1-4). So it all boils down to how you handle them --that my sisters takes godly wisdom.
1. Be honest in conversations of a personal nature. Let people know upfront that you will not promise to keep a secret that you believe perpetuates dishonesty, hurt, or harm to another person. This will no doubt keep you out of the pipeline for gossip but you'll never have to worry about letting something slip!
2. Learn how to discern when violations of confidences are coming. Anytime someone comes to you with, "I really shouldn't tell anyone this but..." be on the alert. That is if you don't want to be drawn into conversations where something may be told without permission. And just to let you know...for Christians this often comes in the form of a sincere prayer request...yeh right!
3. Just as there are secrets that should be told there are many that shouldn't. Never tell a secret that will embarrass, shake the confidence of, or humiliate another person. Some secrets told to us by close relations can be down right funny...but not to the one who told you! Telling a secret that makes anyone the butt of a joke is not only wrong but mean spirited!
4. Never ask a child to keep a secret. Secrets are burdens difficult for adults but it is absolutely unthinkable to put on a child! Children have enough problems to deal with on their own, carrying yours shouldn't be one of them. Also, you are teaching them how to lie and keep secrets from you!! Some that may be harmful and devastating to their lives that you might need to know.
Sometimes keeping secrets come with a timeline...you may keep a promise to keep a secret for a reasonable amount of time, i.e., for example in the case of domestic violence. You may need to give the victim time to make an "escape plan" to leave the abuser before notifying authorities. But make sure the timeline is understood and adhered to as agreed.
He who trusts secrets to a servant makes him his master.
Remember: Be careful who you tell your secrets to!