Although I welcome the opportunity to help as much as I can, I encourage people to confide in someone in their local church who can walk with them through their struggle. Unfortunately, I often hear the following response of fear:
There isn't anyone I trust. I've been burned too many times.
I'm not naive enough to think that there aren't more trustworthy people than many believe, but the reality is that there is a strong need in the Church for safe people. And by safe, I mean people who can hear the unveiled heart of another and offer them assurance of the following:
1. The assurance that no matter what they say or what they do, it won't in any way change the acceptance they enjoy as a person of value. They need to know that their confession won't bind them to their shame. That even if there isn't immediate repentance or change, there is no fear of personal rejection.
2. The assurance that there will be genuine interest in the compassionate care of their spirit. That any expressed feelings of anger, bitterness, confusion, hurt, fear, sinful desire, sorrow, dismay, distrust or discouragement will be received with the same measure of careful attention that is given to the dispensing of truth. They need to know that their emotions will be met with respect whether or not they are legitimate or righteous.
3. The assurance that what they say will be kept in strict confidence. That if any details of their story require the ear of another, that it will only happen with their knowledge and, if at all possible, with their consent. They have to be confident that their personal privacy will be secured with strong cords of integrity.
I don't know about you, but I don't want to be missing in action. I want to hear the desperate cries of the needy. Cries that drive me to the Cross, knowing that's the place where safe people dwell. Because truly safe people carry a healthy fear of the sinful pride that can render them unsafe and prone to the harmful devaluing, dismissing and dishonoring of others. Safe people are humble people who kneel before the Savior in full awareness of their own deep need for safety.
"... for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety." Psalm 4:8