Trust is an often-touted value in life, yet it continues to seem illusive in many venues, including unfortunately ministry. We are reminded to trust in God dozens of times in Scripture when we are afraid (Ps 56:3), when we are anxious (Jn. 14:1), for our salvation (Jn. 12:36), etc. We are cautioned against trusting in things, idols, power, money, etc. To say that the concept of trust is a major theme throughout the Bible is an understatement. The very thing that would relieve our stress, bring contentment, and develop deeper relationships, is in fact, trust. Trust in God and trusting relationships with others.
Patrick Lencioni in his best seller, Five Dysfunctions of a Team, indicates that ‘lack of trust’ is the primary inhibitor in the growth of teams. Many staffs have gone through trust seminars, trust exercises, trust conversations, etc. Yet, as much press as the subject has received, it continues to be the number one issue facing most ‘teams’.
What makes trust so seemingly inaccessible to so many staffs, teams, families, churches, etc.? The concept of trust is quite simple; it is what Lencioni states as “the willingness of one person to be completely human with another.” That doesn’t sound that onerous does it? However, it is seldom that we experience trusting relationships on a consistent basis.
Strangely enough, as much as books like Good to Great, by Jim Collins, applaud the value of the ‘Level 5’ leader who demonstrates, “personal humility” and “compelling modesty”, we continue to plow further down the path towards arrogance and narcissism. While we could dive into the ‘why’ of that, instead, let’s consider a few guaranteed corrective measures, starting with the most obvious first:
1. Develop Self-Awareness. One of the most needed things among leaders, especially those in the ministry, is self-awareness. Acknowledging our weaknesses is job #1. Until we become self-aware, we will continue to run into the same problems.
2. Ask for help. What could possibly be so hard about saying, “I know I am not great at everything, I have areas to grow in, I could use your help”? Probably the healthiest thing that we can ever do is admitting our need of others.
3. Be personable. A key issue prohibiting trust within groups is a lack of knowledge of others. Spend time with other people, have conversations, get to know them on a personal level. Know and be known.
4. Be open. Open communication, without covering, is without question the most positive practice towards building trust we can ever implement. When we are not forthright with others, trust is chipped away.
5. Go first. If we are the leader in an organization, we must set the pace. If we want trust, we must extend trust by practicing 1-4 above. If we don’t trust is breached and the cycle continues. Even if we are not the leader, we can still go first. We can choose to be a pace setter in our organization and/or family by creating environments of trust, and in so doing we may very well transform the atmosphere. Whichever the case, we have nothing to lose and everything to gain.