Day 23 – Strictly Confidential

STRICTLY CONFIDENTIAL: Never share another person’s story, struggles, successes, sins, or secrets outside the group.

“A gossip goes around telling secrets, but those who are trustworthy can keep a confidence.” (Prov. 11:13 NLT)

If you are a fan of the television show Seinfeld, you will remember that the concept of “the vault” comes up several times, like season 3 “The Fix Up.”

George: Alright look, I’m gonna tell you, but I made a pact with Cynthia. We swore we were not going to tell you and Elaine.
Jerry: You can tell me. I’ll vault it.
George: It’s in the vault?
Jerry: I’m locking the vault.

In another episode Elaine says, “You can tell me. I’ll put it in the vault.” Jerry says, “No good. Too many people know the combination.” As it turned out, Jerry could lock the vault but on the other hand, if Elaine had a drink or two, her vault doors flew open.

Most people believe they are good at locking the vault, but for some “too many people know the combination.” In almost every case, bandmates should not share anything confidential in nature with anyone outside the band. I have shared little bits about my band with you throughout this study, but nothing I have shared has been in the confidential category, or if it were I would have their permission to share.

Rather than making confidentiality subject to your own interpretation, consider anything shared as a struggle, success, sin, or secret off limits for outside-of-band discussion. While a success could be considered a worthy thing of sharing or celebrating, let that person share their successes with whom they wish. This should even extend to our spouses. I do not share with my wife anything that came from the band meeting about my bandmates. This creates a kind of freedom and safety in the group where honesty can flourish. You may find it helpful to discuss as a group what your hopes are for confidentiality. For example, Do you want spouses to be off limits?

One potential exception to confidentiality would be if a bandmate shares with you something that would indicate that they are a real potential harm to themselves or to somebody else. Obvious examples would be current suicidal thoughts or compulsion toward abuse or violence. This would be an area where it may be in that person’s best interest to take the situation outside of the band context. In these instances, process your concerns initially with your third or fourth bandmates and prayerfully decide the course of action that continues to honor band confidentiality as much as possible.

Sometimes it can be hard on us to keep secrets, whether they are ours or someone else’s. Often when we learn something that we are supposed to keep secret from another we can feel the urge to tell somebody. Here are a few suggestions if you have heard a secret that you need to process or are feeling an urge to share with someone else:

  1. Write about it in a personal journal. Getting things down on paper helps us externalize our feelings and can reduce our burden. Leave names out of the journal and focus on your reaction to it rather than the confidential thing shared if you are concerned about anyone else ever reading it.
  2. Process with a therapist. Therapy should always be a safe and confidential place for you to process your life and experiences. If something a bandmate shared created a strong emotional reaction in you and you feel like you need to talk it through with somebody, a therapeutic or professional counseling situation would be an appropriate place to process this.
  3. Talk with another bandmate. Having three or more in the band provides a built in person who you can process with if you hear something that raises concerns or strong emotion in you. Of course, the goal is not to gossip or needlessly talk about a bandmate when they’re not present, but rather to help you begin to understand your own reaction without breaching the band’s umbrella of trust.

The goal in this commitment is to honor and keep sacred a person’s story and experiences to the highest degree. What happens in the group, stays in the group. Your bandmates will thank you for it, and you will find that having a space in your life where you have the freedom to be deeply honest is a real means of grace in your life.

The Prayer

God, give me the courage to be a person who is not afraid to share deeply about myself. Give me wisdom and love in being available for others to share deeply about themselves. Amen.

For Band Interaction

Consider sharing a time in your life when someone broke your trust or confidence.