Can you believe we are almost at the end of August? This year has both crawled and flown by. The older I get, the faster time goes, yet this virus and fear and the uncertainty we all are struggling with seem to have also slowed time way down. Will we ever see normal again? Or will there be a new normal?
We don’t know yet, but what kinds of things are you putting into your day, your week, your year, to make it more nourishing, meaningful, and enjoyable for you and your loved ones? For me, I just signed up for a three day all women’s pickleball camp in November in Phoenix. I love that sport, and I haven’t been able to play much at all this year. How about you?
This week’s question: I am a leader at my church who has recently filed for divorce from my husband. My family and I are well respected, and news of the divorce will inevitably impact the congregants. What do you suggest is the best way to inform them? Should I make a public announcement, address their concerns one on one, or neither?
Answer: You haven’t given me enough details to adequately answer your question but let me leave you with some things to think through.
First, you are right; the news will impact the congregation. Depending upon your church’s stance on divorce and how conservative they are, they will have questions, and some will most likely disapprove. Each person will make up a story, a reason, an explanation as to what’s going on and why you filed. Do you want to leave such a weighty matter up to their imaginations by saying nothing?
From my perspective, when possible, it’s always best to give people as much of the factual truth as possible so that they don’t make up an erroneous story. Just because your family is respected doesn’t mean people won’t gossip or be curious as to why a leader in the church couldn’t keep her marriage together. Click To Tweet
I also think that if you are a public leader in your church, you do need to tell them why you have made this decision. If you were just an attendee, then maybe not. But as a leader who people look up to for spiritual guidance, they will want to know what’s going on in your heart and mind (rightly so).
I don’t know the reason you filed for divorce; you didn’t say. You may be reluctant to spill your husband’s dirty laundry in public. For the sake of his reputation and your children, you may be reluctant to share details. That’s fine. But your church elders will need to know your thoughts and reasons for divorce so that they can publicly support your decision.
Then you will need to craft some sort of statement that lets your congregation know that you have made this hard choice, that you had Biblical reasons, and that your elders are behind you. You would also want them to know that you appreciate their prayers and wish for them to respect your family’s privacy during this painful time.
There will still be gossip and questions, but if you lay the foundation and groundwork well, you should be able to continue to say, “Thank you for your prayers and concerns. I deeply appreciate and need them during this difficult time. I’m keeping the personal details private and would appreciate you respecting my decision.”
If you hold your head high and navigate this journey with strength, humility, and courage, your church can grow stronger through it. You will be modeling to them as a leader how to deal with sin, heartache, and painful life circumstances in a godly way.
And, please get your own support and help because this is a painful time for you and as a leader. You may not have a lot of safe places or spaces to share your own fears, sins, and struggles.
Friends, if you were in leadership in a church or ministry, did you tell the truth to people about what was going on in your life or marriage? Why or why not?