In every battle, there is information that if known by the enemy, could change the outcome of that battle. It is important that, while still maintaining an open and honest culture, we do not give our enemies the bullets to shoot us with. It’s not about being secretive, it’s about being careful and keeping private things private.
I have always been a very open person and that has occasionally got me into trouble, as I have given information to disloyal people who used that information to attack me and try and destroy me. You need to make sure that information that is vital to battle-succcess is not handed out to people who will just use it to destroy you.
Now as Christians, you might tell me – look, Ben, having secrets sounds a little unbiblical, a little immoral, that doesn’t sound right at all! And I hear you – there is a great value in being open, honest and having integrity.
However, telling some people some information is not open, not honest and not integrity, it is just gossip, it is giving away state secrets, it is giving people who want to shoot you bullets.
Jesus Christ deliberately withheld information from the Pharisees. He taught in parables to make sure certain people were not aware of what he was saying. The Pharisees in the end murdered Jesus in cold-blood, they were enemies, they should not have been told everything! When a war is going on, there are definite reasons for not giving all the information to all the people all the time.
Certain people are looking to use information to hurt you and hinder your ministry and obstruct your church. You do not owe them information, you do not have to tell them anything. I have people regularly email me who have maybe seen me on Tree of Life TV once, or used to go to the church, demanding to know what I think about A, B, or C. I am not going to tell them my opinions – that is called casting your pearls before swine. If they want to know they can turn up at the Tree and listen to me preach!
Let me say it again: when there are people who want to destroy you, you do not have to tell all the people all the information all the time. Secrets are not evil, in fact the Bible says the exact opposite.
There are three things which according to the Bible if you do not keep secret, you are a fool, a moron, a stupid person. Here they are:
- All Your Opinions
A fool utters all his mind, but a wise man keeps it in until afterward (Proverbs 29.11)
You see you might have some opinions on a topic that taken out of context will cause people to attack you or despise you or think less of you. You do not have to give your opinion on anything! There are issues that are irrelevant to the good news that divide your church, if you start sharing those regularly, you could divide your church on something that does not matter.
Not that long ago there was a Christian book that I could see was dividing the church, people had very strong views one way and the other about the content of this book. Some thought it was virtually word for word from heaven, others thought it was from hell. I deliberately have not read it, have no opinion on it, and haven’t spoke about it. Why? I am not a fool, it won’t help anyone get to still waters or green grass. Better to keep that private. Someone will use it against me.
I don’t recommend TV programmes or films, because someone will watch a movie I recommend – and there will be a small scene that is inappropriate that I just missed out on or forgot about, and suddenly, I am recommending my church watch unsuitable scenes! You do not have to tell everyone all your mind all the time! It is not smart to do that.
When the Black Lives Matter protests were happening in London, I did not make a comment for three weeks, because I was only to comment on it in the context of the gospel. And what, in terms of me as a pastor discipling people, concerns me about both sides of the rhetoric in this subject area, is people are cursing themselves and speaking negatively over their own future, and words have so much power, we much learn to speak carefully and positively about our future. I had people who have left our church wanted me to say certain things – why? To shoot me down. I do not have to reveal my whole mind. You being a great disciple of Jesus does not depend on it.
- All Your Revelations
Paul saw heaven, and heard things he could not share with people. I have no idea what he encountered, he didn’t share it, but you do not have to share with people all your revelations all the time. Paul actually says that it was unlawful to share what he had heard. Sometimes I am preaching in a church that does not understand grace, and I cannot choke them, that would be against the law of love – so I give people a spoonful of grace and faith, and help feed them. We do not have to share all the revelations all the time. Did you know the Father is keeping a big revelation from Jesus? (read Mark 13.32 if you don’t believe me). The Father has a revelation that will change the world, but He hasn’t told a single human, a single angel and not even Jesus! That’s staggering. Some things are not only permissible to keep secret, it is better to keep them secret.
- Other People’s Failings
We are not gossips, and we should not be talking about others behind their back – even if it is true! People who gossip about your failings in private are disloyal to you and will destroy your church. I am not talking about earth shattering church destroying sins, but your humanity, your weaknesses, your infirmities should be kept quiet by those around you.
I like to say it like this, using the analogy of a restaurant: some conversations should only happen in the kitchen.
Loose lips can sink ships. Make sure the ship of your church is not one of them!