Weekly Thought – March 18, 2014
Fred was asked the “secret” of his friendships with so many substantial and influential people, especially since he had no educational background or social pedigree that would create those natural alliances. “I want nothing from them and they can trust me.” He once said, “When I die years of confidences will go with me.”
He valued the confidence of others, as well. His faithful secretary Margie Keith listened to his thinking for hundreds of hours as she transcribed his tapes. She never disclosed his thoughts. Last month Margie died in Floyd, VA. She will be missed and her contribution to our ongoing work can never be overestimated. Please remember her sister Wilma Reed who faithfully cared for her.
Strong friendships involve confidences. The giving and receiving of them is the true test of the relationship. They grow in proportion to the confidences which we share with one another. This demonstrates trust. Therefore, true friendships grow slowly.
Within each of us is the desire to be known, but each of us does not have the same ability or willingness. Often it is easier to know others than to be known by others. When I say “know” I mean a deep understanding. Often it is easy to create temporary relationships which look like trusting and knowing, but are actually just passing by. It is easy to feign attachment.
One of the key elements of sharing confidences is knowing how strongly someone feels about the subject being shared. There are times when something is publicly shared without malice, but just out of misunderstanding the depth and seriousness of the confidence. Friendships can be jeopardized or even ended by careless exposure.
Until we know that, we cannot truly hold it with proper respect. This is part of mental discipline. I have actually known some who know themselves well enough to recognize that they just won’t hold things in confidence so they insist on not knowing anything that can’t be shared. This sounds like living in integrity, but it is actually sloppy and undisciplined. Mature adults develop the ability to hold confidences.
The meaner person pretends to keep confidences but simply mine them for personal gain. An executive I once knew operated from a power base of “being in the know.” They extracted confidences and used them as bargaining chips. This strategy is short term because once identified the person was shut out of the inner circle.
In true friendships what one values becomes important to the other. There is an unspoken understanding of what true empathy means. This carries a heavy responsibility and a price tag which many are unwilling to pay. Friendships are not free.
This week think carefully about: 1) Who is my confidante? 2) How trustworthy am I? 3) What do I value in friendship?
Words of Wisdom: “Mature adults develop the ability to hold confidences.”
Wisdom from the Word: “The one who goes about gossiping reveals secrets; therefore do not associate with someone who is always opening his mouth.” (Proverbs 20:19 NET Bible)