Elders are Discreet People

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When you become an elder (or a deacon or a minister) you will experience a change at least in one respect: you will become more aware of the need to be discreet.

People will perceive of you differently too. There will be occasions that they entrust you with personal information that they think of as confidential.  They intuitively assume that it is safe with you, that you will not share it with others.

You do well to adopt a personal rule in relating to parishioners: do not talk with members about members.

As you grow in awareness to be discreet, it will become second nature. Personal matters entrusted to you by members will stay with you, and you only.

It is interesting that the Form for the Installation of Elders and Deacons contains these phrases: “... keeping in confidence those matters entrusted to you,” and “ … hold in trust all sensitive matters confided to you.”

You will also be part of personal matters discussed in Council and/or Elders meetings. Such situations take place when you make nominations for Elders and Deacons, or when you report on family visits. Personal details may inevitably be revealed. But even then, office-bearers should refrain from divulging personal details that are not strictly germane to the report. And needless to say: this information needs to stay within the walls of the council room.

A good question is: “Does what I now say enhance the reputation of this member?” Another good question: “...if this member were present, would I still divulge these details?”

Please share your thoughts.

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