4 preachers had a weekly tradition of going fishing together. One particular day, they were out on the lake and the boat was unusually quiet. One of the pastors who was usually loud and jovial was hardly saying a word. The others could tell he was troubled. One of them finally asked, “What’s the matter, brother?”
“Well,” the preacher said, “I haven’t told this to a soul but I trust the three of you so I’m just going to be out with it. I have a drinking problem. It started out innocently enough with a couple drinks here and there but now I get drunk every day. I go three towns over to the liquor store so no one will see me. I’m afraid if my congregation finds out, they won’t want me as their pastor anymore.”
The other three pastors offered words of encouragement and challenged him to get help. He looked very relieved to be free of the burden of his secret.
After a pause, a second pastor spoke up. “Brother, your bravery has inspired me to come clean about something. I’ve been addicted to internet pornography for quite some time. I know it’s wrong and I feel awful about it but I can’t seem to control myself. I’m worried that if I don’t get help, it will destroy my marriage and my ministry.”
Likewise, the other three pastors encouraged and challenged the second pastor.
“While we’re all sharing,” the third pastor said, “I need to get something off my chest as well. I have a gambling problem. It started out as just the occasional scratch-off but now it seems I bet on everything. I go to casinos or race tracks on the weekend and it’s destroyed my finances. I don’t know what would happen if my church found out.”
Again, the other three pastors encouraged and challenged the third pastor. The 4th pastor was silent for a few minutes but finally worked up the courage to speak:
“Brothers, I too have a confession to make. I’m a raging gossip and I can’t WAIT to get off this boat!”
“Whatever is said here, stays here.” This promise is the hallmark of any true accountability group. This joke reminds us of the true damage that can be caused by broken confidentiality and serves as a warning that we should choose our confidants with care. Gossip is a grave sin. Not only does our need to share what we’ve learned (or more often, think we’ve learned) hurt the people we’re spreading tales about, it hurts us. We can damage our friendships with people permanently over the silly compulsion to be “in the know.” Whereas carefully guarding the hearts of your friends and loved ones can deepen those relationships. Next time you’re thinking of rushing off the boat to share the latest juicy bit you’ve learned, you’d do well to remember that loose lips sink ships.
Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear…