If there was one piece of advice that I would give any leader (especially in ministry) is that most of the time it is better to keep your mouth shut.
1)Â Â Be humble and realize that you donâ€™t have all the answers. Proverbs 17:28 says, â€œa fool is thought wise until he opens his mouthâ€ (or presses keys on his keyboard). Wisdom is to realize that you are not â€œall thatâ€ and to add a thankfully forgotten 90â€™s reference â€œand a bag of chips.â€ You have been called to be a leader, and Christ is to receive all the glory. Many times in order for that to happen, you need to keep your mouth shut.
If there is one thing that children do that aggravates me is when one will say, â€œactually, . . .â€ after an adult has just made a statement. They at the age of nine are correcting an adult of forty. They have a fourth grade education, and the adult they correct has a lifetime of experience and various degrees. What aggravates me is that the child assumes his equality (even to point out perceived mistakes) in the adultâ€™s speech.Â The adult has learned, forgotten, remembered, and forgotten again more things than the child has ever even experienced. One essential lesson we can teach children (and model in our own lives) is humility. This is a difficult task because you are toÂ walk the razor’s edge ofÂ not crushing the spirit of the child, but at the same time pointing out their lacking.
2)Â Â Just stop talking. You do not need to fill the void of silence in the conversation with constant empty talking. Sit back and watch, listen, and learn. Philippians 2:3 says, â€œDo nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.â€
When you talk with other people, seek out their interests, ask them questions about their passions, and express a genuine concern for their lives. Most people can tell if you are asking them questions to try and get on their “good side,” instead be genuine.
3)Â Â Itâ€™s not your story to tell. You are on a journey with other people and they will tell you parts of their story to you; they will express their heartache, their pain, their struggles, their doubts, their ambitions, their weaknesses â€“ and these things are not for you to tell others. If at some point God works in their lives and they desire to tell others of their story in a public setting, then let them â€“ you do not have the right to tell their story for them.
As a leader you will lose credibility and trust if you betray otherâ€™s stories. Most of the men that I have little respect for are those that simply canâ€™t keep a secret â€“ they donâ€™t seem to be able to keep their mouths shut. Is a laugh from one really worth the betrayal of another?
4)Â Â If you can keep your mouth shut, you will gain trust. People naturally distrust those that speak without thinking. If people trust you, then you will gain credibility. If you gain credibility then you can expand your circle of influence. You will know that you have gained trust, when “they” ask what you think. If you are always saying what you think before you are asked, then you will be perceived as a know it all, and of â€œsticking your noseâ€ in otherâ€™s business.
5)Â Â Friends do not come into our lives everyday. In ministry, it is hard to find someone that you can bear your heart to and trust that they will never tell a soul. Proverbs 17:17 â€œA friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.â€ Donâ€™t betray that trust, you may not get another chance at a really close friendship.
Final Note: Yes of course you should tell the proper authorities if someone is hurting someone else (affair, abuse, illegal or immoral behavior, etc.) We are talking about the everyday struggles of men and those in leadership, not secrets that do damage to other people.