Integrity Matters

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From B:
My late father; JC Hutson worked at a sawmill in Sunman, IN. He had seen fingers, arms and hands of workers cut by the saws. However one day, he came home distraught over one of the men falling into one of the giant saws. This young man and Dad were friends and this massive saw cut off one of his legs.

That was a true eye opener for my Dad. It took something drastic for him to really grasp the danger of his job.

I will celebrate 21 years in full time ministry this July. Combined with my 10 years as a regional bi-vocational singer/artist, it will be 31 years.

The things that are “part of my job” are not as physically dangerous as my Dad’s job, .

Missing birthdays and anniversaries.
Missing funerals for family and friends.
Not being home to witness baby’s first words or first steps.
Loneliness for the singer/musician and the spouse and family left at home.
Early morning and late night load-ins.
Late night trips to Waffle House.
Forgetting some essential item on the road; socks, belt, etc.
Awkward and strange concert settings; diners, flatbed trucks, picnic areas, backyards, sidewalks.
Occasional overbearing Promoters, Pastors and Music Ministers.
Aggressive women.

While the things that are “part of my job” are not as physically dangerous as working in a sawmill.. they are still dangerous.

Just like my Dad didn’t realize that he came home from work everyday covered in sawdust, we gospel singers and ministers don’t realize that what we recognize as “just a female wanting a hug or picture with me”, our wives (and other concert goers) see it as something TOTALLY different.

Now, before I continue, let me clarify this: Yvonne is NOT a jealous person. However, she calls it “that thing that I have”. I call it “discernment.”

She knew before we were married that this (gospel music) was what I do for a livelihood.

I appreciate the folks that love and have supported me and the various ministries that I’ve been involved in through the years, However, I’m very protective of my marriage, our family and my integrity. I have MANY genuine friends that support me, love Yvonne and the kids and are SO happy that I’m in a different place in my life. There are also past acquaintances that come around to see or hope that I’m the “same old Bryan” they once knew.

Not long ago, Yvonne posed this question.. “How would you feel if tomorrow, you looked on our Facebook page and there was a picture of me and a man that you didn’t know with his arm around me?”

I had to answer honestly, I probably wouldn’t like it. No, I KNOW I wouldn’t like it. In fact, I’ve gotten upset about harmless comments made by one of her friends.

Last week at a concert I saw a lady who I have known for nearly 20 years and as I walked up to her, I stopped and began a conversation. Her husband came up and she asked “What? No hug?” I reached out and (with one arm) I “half” hugged her and shook her husband’s hand. She said “You join a different group (Soul’d Out) and I stop getting my hugs.” This person thought I wasn’t hugging her because I had switched groups, when in fact, I have just tried to honor my marriage by not initiating physical contact with members of the opposite sex. I’m fighting hard for my integrity.

I never want anyone to think that I BELIEVE that I know it all- because I don’t. I have just learned a lot of lessons through the years. Most, I learned by something drastic happening..

I admit that I have not always made the right decisions when it came to protecting my integrity.

I have been accused of being and doing a lot of bad things in the last 31 years, most are NOT TRUE but sadly, some ARE true.

I believe God is leading me to make a few BOLD statements. These are not said in hate or judgment, but in my heart I want to keep someone from falling into one of “giant saws.”

If you are a minister, a minister through gospel music or consider yourself a gospel entertainer, read this and soak it in…

Stop flirting with members of the opposite sex that are NOT your spouse and STOP letting them flirt with you.

Men…Yes, I know women are a big part of our audience in churches and gospel music and I know ALL men LOVE affirmation but you are dishonoring your WIFE, your KIDS, your church, your ministry/group and most of all the name of JESUS CHRIST when you behave that way and allow members of the opposite sex to behave that way.

Men may say “Bryan, we can’t control how this woman acts!” That’s true. However you CAN control how far she goes with it. Stop making excuses! Honor God and your Wife..Put your foot on the serpent’s head and stop it DEAD in it’s tracks! You have the power!

“It’s just an innocent hug!” Really? How many concert goers or parishioners saw you hug this lady with both arms in a deep embrace? Can you go to each one of them or the people that THEY tell and say “it was just an innocent hug.”

Last year I stood behind Soul’d Out’s merchandise table and watched an award winning male singer (who is married) hug a lady and keep his hand in the small of her back for at least 6 minutes while talking to her. They could’ve been talking about salvation, the Bible, their families (I doubt it) but their body language SPOKE VOLUMES to me.

If that had been my wife, I would’ve sat her down and I’d dragged him outside and introduced his face to my fist.

How many females that are NOT your wife have your personal cell phone number? Do they call or text when they know you are not home? Do you call/text them when you’re “out ministering?”

“She’s just a friend and she’s going through a rough time, so that’s why I called/texted her.” That’s CRAP. If it’s a female and you are genuinely concerned about helping her, let your WIFE or a lady from your church text or call her. NOT YOU.

If any email, text, phone call or conversation with a member of the opposite sex would make you uncomfortable discussing it with your spouse- it is WRONG. NO exceptions!

Women..if you are an artist or just a fan and you attend concerts because you “enjoy the attention that So and So gives you”- you need to STOP.

Do you realize that his wife and kids are at home and they are REAL people? They believe that what Dad does is for God, they pray for and miss him! Is the reason that you support him or his group because you TRULY believe in the ministry? You have been affected and drawn closer to God by this ministry? Or are you drawn to the MINISTER and your motive is NOT pure?

We as married people MUST have boundaries in place.
Groups should go above and beyond to defend your group or ministry’s integrity!

I heard once that Rev. Billy Graham would not even step into a hotel room until a couple of his men cleared the room first. He wanted to protect himself. Another well known gospel singer/songwriter (who travels with his wife) won’t allow his picture to be taken with a female unless his wife is in the picture as well.

Once those boundaries are set, let anyone who tries to cross those lines know that these “guidelines and rules are for everyone’s protection.” If that person doesn’t understand why you’ve drawn boundaries to protect your marriage and integrity and they decide to stop supporting your group or ministry- just pray for them, because they have shown their true colors and their REAL motives.

A REAL supporter will respect you, your marriage, your family and your commitment to God.

How many people start out with the mindset that “I’m going to have an affair?” None that I know of. It doesn’t have to be physical to be an affair. There are emotional affairs as well.

God. Marriage. Family. Ministry/Job.

It took something drastic for my Dad to see the severity of how dangerous his job really was. Don’t let something drastic happen to get YOU to wake up.

You could lose your spouse.
You could lose your family.
You could lose your integrity.
You could lose your job.
You could lose EVERYTHING.

So what do you do if you’re convicted by The Holy Spirit through this article?

First, STOP. Confess it to God, ask His forgiveness and ask the Holy Spirit to help you. Do not put yourself in that position again. Share your struggle with a same sex friend/co worker and ask them to “stay close” when that situation arises. Because it WILL. Stop ALL communication with that person. ALL communication! No exceptions.

The devil wants to see YOU destroyed. He hates you because you are serving God. He wants non-believers to hear about “another Christian who’s messed up.”
He wants your marriage in shambles.
He wants your ministry in shambles.
He wants the name of God to be tarnished.

However, God Almighty wants you to be victorious! He wants to bless you!
God wants your marriage to glorify Him!
God desires that your ministry reach hurting people and that the Lost would be saved through
You!
God wants His Son’s name to be magnified.

Proverbs 10:9 “Whoever walks in integrity walks securely. But whoever takes crooked paths will be found out.”

From Y:

Ohhhh…. It scares me a tad to even mention this subject out loud. I am blessed that Bryan and I have a ” say what you mean and mean what you say” policy with each other…. because the subject of boundaries comes up every now and then.

I want to be completely transparent with all our readers and say that my prayer is that it will be read with the same sincere heart that it has been written by. My intent is not to ever seem ungrateful or complaining. I am not a jealous wife… But I am a person. I am fiercely protective over my family and marriage . I am a wife.

I knew exactly what I signed up for when I married my husband. We had been together for years, so I knew what came with being with someone with a public career. Some of it though, I honestly thought would taper off once we got married ( I am referring to inappropriate advances by women). I was used to more or less living on the sidelines and was completely comfortable there. I have my own public career and have never been an ” I’m with the band” kinda girl. I honestly had never heard of the group he sang with or never was ever a fan. I became used to sharing him with the public though because I believe he is given this amazing gift to minister to others.

Maybe I’m just older now or my patience has worn thin over the last decade, but emotionally it is taking its toll on me. So much so- that a day last week I woke up crying, held the tears right behind my eyes all day and then eventually let the tears flow with my hurt flowing out with them. It wasn’t one thing or one situation that pushed me over the edge…. It was multiple scenarios that layered on top of each other that had me feeling suffocated.

I think social media and smart phones have perpetuated the feeling that we “KNOW” people. No, we don’t. We know what the person wants us to know. We share what we want to share. The people who are involved in our day to day lives, good or bad … our short comings & our victories they know us. Everyone else knows YOU that you were 20 years ago or who they think you are from social media but not who YOU are today. In some cases, there is such a lack of respect, in my opinion, for the artist/minister and their family that unfortunately it has become normal to have no boundaries.

Let me tell you a quick TRUE story. The year after we had gotten married, I knew an older female artist had made several comments over the course of that year about how upset she was Bryan had gotten married and how nice looking he was to her every time the groups were booked together. She went so far as to say if she wasn’t married, she would be chasing him. In the days of convention, before I arrived , she had made a point to come to the table and speak to him every night. After I arrived, she didn’t even walk passed the table. So, we walked down the aisle where her table was and Bryan proceeded to stop and introduced me to her. She went on to say congratulations about the wedding and say ” You probably don’t know who I am. We haven’t met before.” To which I responded to her by saying ” Oh, yes, you’re the woman who thinks my husband is so nice looking and told him he didn’t get your permission to get married. You’re the woman who would be chasing him if you weren’t married. That’s who you are.. Right?”. The blood literally drained out of her face. I smiled , said it was nice to meet her and we kept walking.

Another NQC true story- a woman left her cell phone number and a note at the table saying ” I’m here. I lost your number- here’s mine.” This person has met me, knows we are married and still thinks that is ok. When she came back and I approached her about it, her response was ” don’t be upset. I have known Bryan for 20 years. It’s no big deal.” I asked her a simple question. ” Have you never thought it was inappropriate to leave your number for a married man? And you are single, right?” She again said she had been his friend for 20 years. At that point, I put my hands in my back pocket. I was afraid I was going to hit her right there for saying that and hit her again for every time that another person has said the same thing to me. Instead I said ” Let me tell ya what you are not gonna do. You are not ever gonna leave your number on this table again or on any other table in this building for another married man. Are we clear?”

Now, those two situations are the most flagrant examples that come to mind but none the less- hurtful and degrading to me as a person .. as a wife. I am a very strong woman but at times it can be overwhelming. The families of artists are left at home with day to day life. The broken washer or the bills that are due are not what everyone thinks about when they look at artists. They are men and women just like you. They sacrifice things and moments that others take for granted because they have a calling on their life. The calling also applies to their family. You have to believe in reaching the lost as a couple. The sacrifices are as a couple. I believe so should the respect be shown… to the couple… the family.

We set some boundaries for ourselves along the way to try and protect our time together. We try to not take personal calls while together or text. We don’t text after 10pm. As time goes by, sometimes we let them slide by accident. I count on those things to make me feel like i have time that i don’t have to compete for his attention. Then the phone call from someone in the evening of Bryan’s first day back home that was non important sends me into tears. Ridiculous , I am fully aware. Yet… It made me feel invisible. Let me rephrase- I felt completely visible and yet completely ignored. It feels exactly the same when a woman posts a comment on our Facebook page like ” You’d look good in anything.”

Ladies- I know what what it looks like because I resembled it at one point in my life. All I wanted was a Godly man to be the head of the house, to pray with me… to lead me. I have made my share of poor choices in my life. What I know today is that there is a lack of respect floating among us and someone needs to stand up and point it out. I’m not trying to single out women. If it appears that way, let me clarify. Boundaries and respect for artists and their families should come from everyone. This applies to being thoughtful and courteous in general. It could mean looking at the time before you call or text. It could mean stopping and thinking about what you post on social media. Sometimes I think people post things to make themselves appear to be closer to someone than they are to some how affirm themselves. Bryan and I know our friends. Our friends are the ones who sit and eat with us when no one is around. They are never the ones who monopolize Bryan’s time at the table. They are understanding that there are other people waiting to speak to Bryan. They say their goodbyes and they connect with us later. They aren’t having conversations to get information or to gossip. Above all… Our friends cheer for us. They support and cheer for our marriage- not a performance on a stage.

From Both:
I will never admit you are in the right; till I die, I will not deny my integrity. (Job 27:5 NIV)

Because of this, make every effort to add integrity to your faith; and to integrity add knowledge; (2 Peter 1:5 GW)

God can’t stand deceivers, but oh how he relishes integrity. (Proverbs 11:20 MSG)

O Lord, who may abide in Your tent? Who may dwell on Your holy hill? He who walks with integrity, and works righteousness, And speaks truth in his heart. (Psalms 15:1, 2 NASB)

The Hutson’s
2014