How to Deal With Shocking Disclosure – “You What?” Moments
At some point as a Leader, you will have a “You What?” moment.
Yes, the “You What?” will need to stay in your head no matter how much you want to blurt it out.
What am I talking about? I’m talking about when a husband and church Leader shared this shocking disclosure on a road trip saying, “Eric, I’ve been hiring male prostitutes each time I go to out of state conferences.” I was thinking, “Whoa! You what?” Thankfully, my response was, ” Oh my. I would have never known. That must have taken a lot of courage to tell me that. How can I help?” This story had a good ending. He got the help he needed, stayed in his marriage, and is a happy and free grandfather today.
So, what about you as a Leader? How will you respond when you are given a shocking disclosure? Here are some thoughts I hope will help you:
- Self prepare. By this I mean you will know in the seat of your pants someone is about to disclose. Prepare by telling yourself, “Don’t look shocked by the next thing they say!”
- Listen. Underneath every shocking disclosure is pain the person thought they could erase by engaging in whatever sinful practice they jumped into. Additionally, listening will give you time to overcome the crashing question you really want to ask, “You What?” Listen some more and then ask, “Is there anything else you want to share?”
- After you have heard all they have to say, ask, “How can I help?” Of course, there are some boundaries around this:
- If they are abusing a child, you are a mandating reporter to CPS. It must be reported.
- If they are talking about self-harm, you need to bring in additional help such as Crisis Intervention.
- If they are putting someone in an unsafe situation, you will need to bring appropriate authorities into the situation.
- Ask how you can support, encourage, and hold them accountable in their next steps. This could be repenting, counseling, or whatever they come to realize is their next step.
Remember the importance of benevolent detachment. Their sin is not for you to carry. Jesus already took their sin upon Himself. This is not your burden.
You are a Leader, and God will help in these situations.