You’ve probably been in a group setting where someone says something like, “We need to pray for Jenny. She and her husband are separated because he doesn’t want to be married anymore.” Then, the questions begin flying by group members who don’t really care for the outcome of Jenny and her husband but instead just want to know what’s going on with Jenny. But that doesn’t work for mentors. Mentors don’t share and tell.
The kind of protection I want to call you to is protection of the heart. By choosing you as a mentor, your mentee is showing trust. They probably share their deepest fears and concerns with you. They need to know that what they tell you will actually stay with you. They need to know that although other people in this world have hurt them, you will keep their heart safe while you’re on watch.
I had a friend tell me that she tells her husband everything—including what her mentees tell her. She said, “I don’t keep any secrets from my husband.” And she’s right. There should be complete disclosure between a husband and wife. But when your mentee tells you something in confidence, it’s her own secret, not yours. It’s her life she’s asking you to keep quiet, not your life. If your mentee shares something that has to do with you, then yes, tell your spouse. Otherwise, you’re not hiding something from your spouse about his or her life. You’re just keeping your mentee’s confidence—you are not betraying your spouse.
Does that mean you never say anything to someone like a close friend or spouse? Not necessarily. If a life is in danger, bring someone in to help. If you feel they need professional help, ask them if you can help them locate a counselor. I’ve had situations where I just did not know what to tell my mentee. So, I asked her to give me some time to think and told I’d let her know later. I would then ask my husband or mentor their thoughts without telling who the person was. They were able to give advice to me so that I could help my mentee. The purpose of sharing anonymously with them was to help my mentee, not slander her.
Be a trustworthy mentor. Don’t share and tell.
Proverbs 11:13 NIV A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy person keeps a secret.