This Sunday will mark exactly four months since Stephanie and I arrived in California. It’s not the first time I’ve done this, but I figured now would be a good time to review the vows I took at my ordination and installation as pastor of First Lutheran Church and Preschool. One of the things I was asked to promise was this:
“Will you faithfully instruct both young and old in the chief articles of the Christian doctrine, will you forgive the sins of those who repent, and will you promise never to divulge the sins confessed to you?”
Trust is perhaps the most important aspect in the relationship between a congregation and its pastor. As pastors begin to serve in a new call, earning the trust of the congregation can take quite a while.
Trust is earned by preaching faithful sermons, leading faithful Bible studies, and being steady during times of uncertainty. Losing the trust of the congregation often takes only one mistake, and once trust is broken, it may never be restored.
The way many pastors lose the trust of their congregations is by failing to keep confidentiality. The gravity of confidentiality is something I take quite seriously. If you share something personal with me, it will stay with me. If you confess a sin to me, it will never reach anyone else. This is what I promised to you four months ago when I was ordained. I will never divulge the sins confessed to me. I will never tell your story to another person if you share it privately with me.
I’m still getting to know all of you, and you’re still getting to know me, but I hope the trust between us continues to grow through the future months and years.
God’s blessings on your week.