Summary: Becoming as devoted to each other as we are to Jesus is what it takes to walk successfully with other Christ-followers. Let’s explore that together.
Walking with God’s family involves handling disclosure correctly, exercising discernment and becoming as devoted to each other as we are to Jesus Christ.
1. We Must Handle Disclosure Correctly.
What does it mean to disclose something?
To disclose something means to reveal it, to make it known, to confess it, or come out with it.
Did you realize that all relationships are based on mutual disclosure?
I share something with you about myself. You share something with me about yourself.
And as we continue in this give and take exchange we build a foundation upon which our friendship is built.
When Nicole and I were first dating, we used to spend time exercising together.
We would visit a high school track near to where both of us lived.
And we would walk and jog around that track together and just talk.
Up until that point we’d had a working relationship. But when we started jogging together and talking we began to develop a closer relationship.
I would share things about myself she didn’t know. She would share things about herself I didn’t know.
And as we continued to share information with each other pretty soon you could see something special developing.
We were building a foundation on which our relationship would be built.
Disclosure or sharing information with each other was the bridge Nicole and I walked across to get to know one another.
This is how it works in every relationship, not just romantic ones.
Every relationship you and I have is based on a certain amount of disclosure or shared information.
The health of my relationship with Nicole depended on how both of us decided to handle these moments of disclosure.
If I had mishandled some of the information Nicole had given to me, I might not be married to her today.
Have you ever found yourself in a situation where someone mishandled delicate information you shared with them?
When someone shares with you a weakness they have, or something unflattering about themelves there are any number of wrong ways we can handle it.
Some ways people mishandle disclosure are…
1. They Criticize it.
The minute someone shares something they are struggling with with the other person that person turns right back around and criticizes them for it or begins giving them unsolicited advice.
They may say things like, “What were you thinking?” or “What’s wrong with you? Don’t you know better than that?”
Rather than simply hearing it, they judge the thought immediately, at least in their mind saying, “This is good or this is bad.”
This only serves to push the person away and causes the person sharing to clam up and close up.
We mishandle disclosure whenever we make snap judgments or jump to conclusions about the other person based on the little information they are sharing with us.
Steven Covey, in his book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, talks about this.
“Suppose you’ve been having trouble with your eyes and you decide to go to an optometrist for help. After briefly listening to your complaint, he takes off his glasses and hands them to you.
“Put these on,” he says. “I’ve worn this pair of glasses for ten years now and they’ve really helped me. I have an extra pair at home; you can wear these.”
So you put them on. But it only makes things worse.
“This is terrible!” you exclaim. “I can’t see a thing!”
“Well, what’s wrong?” he asks. “They work great for me. Try harder.”
“I am trying,” you insist. “Everything is a blur.”
“Well, what’s the matter with you? Think positively.”
“Okay, I positively can’t see a thing.”
“Boy, are you ungrateful!” he chides. “And after all I’ve done to help you!”
What are the chances you’d go back to that optometrist the next time you needed help? Not very good, I would imagine. You don’t have much confidence in someone who doesn’t diagnose before he or she prescribes.
But how often do we diagnose before we prescribe in communication?”
Proverbs 18:13 says:
“What a shame, what folly, to give advice before listening to the facts!” (NLT)
Another way we mishandle disclosure is…
2. They Publicize it.
When the other person shares a weakness with another person that individual goes public with the information. They betray a confidence and share information with other people that the individual would never have wanted shared. Clearly this is a mishandling of disclosure.
A third way we mishandle disclosure is…
3. They Capitalize On it.
Perhaps the person that has received the information now feels that they have something on the other person. The person with the juicy bit of info now feels that they have a key or a lever that can help them gain an advantage over this weakened person. People who do this mishandle disclosure because they see relationships as competitive and not as restorative.