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Pastors: How much (confidential) information do you share with your spouse?

How much ‘confidential’ church information do you share with you spouse?

You know… board meeting stuff… who says what… who you’re counseling and what the issues are.

Do you share stuff like that with your wife or not?

It seems that most of the time, there are two different types of people… those that share everything, and those that share nothing.

I’m one of the ‘I share almost everything’ types of guys.  My wife is my confidant.  She encourages me, and she talks me off the cliff at times.

But I couldn’t keep a sane head if I couldn’t confide in her.

Others I know are the opposite, and tell their wives next to nothing.

Megan Hill writes on this subject in a guest post at ChristianPost.com.  She writes:

In this post-HIPPA world, in a world where a tweak to Facebook’s privacy policy causes a cyber-stir, confidentiality is seen as a standardized procedure, an invisible but ever-present right.

And that expectation gets imposed on the church.

But pastors and their wives often don’t see it like that. The reality is, the church is something altogether different than a doctor’s office. And your relationship with your pastor is not your relationship with a therapist.

The church is a body. An organic being in which each part is affected by the other.

And this is why pastors and their wives share with one another.

The problems and sins and needs that people bring to their pastor are not isolated letters to a remote advice columnist. (Nor are they unusual or inherently interesting, as some might suppose. We’ve all dealt with the same things. The root of murder is anger, says Jesus, and of adultery, lust.) Instead, the issues people have are part of their whole, eternal self. And their self is part of the body. And that body is the responsibility of the pastor, its under-shepherd.

Pastoring is a long-term commitment to a comprehensive relationship. A pastor tells his wife because what happens to the church happens to him. And what happens to him, happens to her. (That’s the way marriage works.)

Here’s the thing I wish people knew: when your pastor tells his wife something about you, it’s not really about you.

This is what I heard from the pastors’ wives I interviewed:

“If [my husband] is sad, I’ll notice. So he tells me.”

“If I could give any advice to a pastor, I would say keep sharing your heart with your wife. She loves you and is there for you. She does not need all the details, but she needs your heart and your vulnerability.”

“[My husband] is very open with his life. He tells me everything pertaining to his ministry. He tells me details of counseling sessions and personal information of those he ministers to and with. He processes through talking and he feels connected to me when he can share his life with me.”

“I need to be a listening ear. We have had situations where [my husband] felt betrayed in the church. . . I am glad he shared those things with me. It was hard to hear, but I am called to bear his burdens as he is mine.”

For pastors and their wives, it’s not about the secret information. It’s about the fact that having certain secrets can burden an individual and damage a marriage.

// Read more here…

What do you think?  How much do YOU share with your wife (spouse)?  Are there things that you don’t tell her… EVER?

Do you think there are issues of confidentiality that are ever breached during a husband/wife discussion?

Leave a comment…

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11 Responses to “ “Pastors: How much (confidential) information do you share with your spouse?”

  1. Gary says:

    If it affects me at home, I share it with her. If it doesn’t affect my home life, then I protect her from it! This has worked for us for many years and I recommend it for others!

  2. Seth says:

    In the book Nearing Home by Rev. Billy Graham, he was asked, “Who is your pastor?” His response, “My wife Ruth was always my pastor.”

    I cannot imagine not telling my wife the pains, frustrations, joys, and the like about my work and ministry. Even though I am not serving a church as a pastor, I am a Deacon who hears and knows so much about so many at my church.

    As someone finishing seminary and hoping to either serve and/or plant a church in the future, my wife will be a huge part of that and I cannot imagine not sharing things with her.

  3. Ron says:

    As I read your article, I was more thankful for my wife. I tend to be like you in that I share most everything. However, a big reason for that is becuase of WHO my wife is beyond our partnership in marriage. That is, she is NOT a gossip, she IS a THINKER (not a feeler), and she is equally invested in seeing God glorified through His Church. Perhaps if my wife were different, I would be more cautious and protective, but God made her one with whom I can share openly and . . . I like it that way! Also, I have found there are some things I encounter in ministry that are NOT WORTH contemplation by anybody, so I forget it. Why bother my bride with worthless, shameful words and deeds of others? Phil. 4:6-7 says that I should not even dwell on that kind of stuff, and neither should she. So while she might like to know everything . . . ooops, I fogot.

  4. Rick Williams says:

    I do not burden my wife with details, and church members know because I tell them. She prays for me and the Spirit makes groanings beyond utterance. That way people can be going through stuff and not have guilt compounded because of “what she might think”.

  5. Steve Anderson says:

    Sorry. I disagree. It is a good thing when my wife can answer those who are asking inappropriate questions (they wouldn’t dare ask the pastor), “I don’t know, you’ll have to ask the pastor.” It in fact builds confidence in the congregation that their counseling confidences will not become the subject of the pastor’s conversations with their church-mates. My wife is a nurse and we’ve had this agreement for 45 years of marriage… she doesn’t tell me who she sees with their pants off and I don’t tell her who has unburdened their soul in my office. Lonely at times? Sure. But another’s story is just that – it’s THEIR story, not mine to share.

  6. For a long time, I didn’t share details with my wife in the name of “protecting” her. In retrospect, the cumulative effect was shutting her out and building an unnecessary wall.

  7. The question is about “confidential” information. If she was supposed to be privy to this information she would be in the pastors meeting, board room or counseling session with me. So no, I don’t share “confidential” information with my wife. Everything else is fair game.

  8. Whereas my husband is a counselor to many when it comes to spiritual, life and relational issues, does anyone wonder who the pastor’s wife goes to for such help? Most people would probably recommend some independent, Christian counselor. Is it possible for a spouse to be your pastor and counselor?

  9. Rev. K. A. Christian says:

    as a student of psychology… sharing information with my wife about a particular situation which a member confided in me breaks all legal and ethical rules… as a pastor/counselor there are rules in place to protect both the pastor and the counselee…

    if the members of the church know everything they share with me in private would be shared with my wife later on… they’ll be less likely to share anything… one out of fear they’ll be looked down upon…

  10. Chuck says:

    About 95% of confidential information I am burdened with, I withhold from my wife. The 5% involves issues we are addressing together with others so we both hold that info in trust.

  11. Gary says:

    I work with a Pastors wife, I do not attend that church, but when he confides with his wife, it is in front of me, he includes the names of the church members and finds humor in their problems. They chuckle, joke and carry on about the members of their church. A church that he ministered at prior has fallen on hard times financially, and they take obvious pleasure in that! I could walk into that church and tell most of the members what their issues they have been having and for how long. We live in a small town, so most of these members I know or am familiar with.

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