Monday, July 20, 2009

Breach of Trust

We have discovered that my husband’s medical diagnosis was released to our church’s leadership council during the first weeks of his medical leave.

No one asked his permission or notified him of the release of information.

The senior pastor’s wife also has known of his diagnosis all along, because the senior pastor spoke with my husband’s doctor on his cell phone while his wife was in the car.


Apparently, the church council was sworn to secrecy. How reassuring! A dozen people are walking around church, making important decisions related to my husband’s life, and clandestinely toting his personal information. You may as well just stop me in the hall and say, “I don’t give a s*** about your family.”

Why would a church council ever discuss anything about anybody if they needed to be sworn to secrecy?

It also turns out that some council members suggested that my husband be fired as soon as he went on medical leave. Because that’s legal. And ethical. And, you know, compassionate.

There are so many things about this that make me want to scream and kick and punch everyone. The one I keep returning to is that this affects our entire family. The pre-existing conflict and the exposure of his medical leave already made me feel anxious and unsafe on Sunday mornings. Now I also feel like I cannot trust the leadership of our congregation to treat us with respect.

I have no idea what was accomplished by sharing this information. Maybe it helped them decide not to fire my husband? Perhaps I should say thank you.

I feel like the purpose was to satisfy some voyeuristic, morbid curiosity about our family. As far as I can tell, we have not benefited from any compassionate impulses inspired by awareness of his condition. There’s been almost no indication that any of the council members imagine that we might all be suffering as a result of his illness, or their cavalier attitude toward it. I am hopeless in trying to discern how to protect my family and have a forgiving, compassionate attitude toward these people. It feels like we are at entirely cross purposes.


  1. My dear sister in Christ,

    I know where you have been. It has happened to me personally. I know the heartaches, the lack of trust, and the loneliness you feel. I understand how it is hard to receive Christ's gifts in church because you are distracted if someone will get on you for not looking like you are paying enough attention (and where was their's at that moment?) or that you are too involved (or not enough) and how you feel like you can't defend your family because your hubby's job is at stake if you do. I understand very well, my friend. You are in my prayers.

  2. Dear OBPW,

    I'm not a pastor's wife, but I do know what it is like to be betrayed, stressed to the max, and chewed up and spit out by Christians. I wish I could offer you a real hug, a large pot of tea, and a quiet retreat on the days you need them. Alas, I cannot.

    I can offer you my prayers and one of the best articles I've ever read describing the trials of pastors and offering comforts from another pastor. It was written over 100 years ago, but I think you may find it well worth the read. I hope it gives you comfort and encouragement.


  3. Thank you for your prayers and for the article. I appreciate Spurgeon's point that suffering breeds compassion. I am certainly learning compassion these days.


  4. Dear PW Sister,
    I'm not shocked at all by your post. I have been on your end more times than I can count. THe hurt you feel is one that I can relate to and truly understand. It is a hurt that runs deep that stares back at you every time you see someone from Church or even when you think of Church.
    I always try and protect my children from this betrayal and hurt. As for you, the wife, you are not protected by worldy comforts (besides your family). Your protection and relief from your pain comes from above. I'm praying for you and your family. I pray for strength and comfort through Christ gifts that you receive in His Church.
    Please email me so we can talk more. cafescrapper at gmail dot com Susan Buetow PW to Mark Buetow, Southern IL


Thanks for using this space to share your encouraging words.