Trust is essential in ministry. For people to engage with us, they must believe we are trustworthy people. The basic idea of trust is making and keeping promises. Am I who I say I am? Do I do what I say I will do? If people trust you, you can lead them. If people don’t trust you, they simply won’t follow you.
LET’S TALK …
Trust can never be demanded of someone; it must be earned. Even when you think you deserve to be trusted, you must invite people to trust. Don’t take it for granted. Trust is built over time and can be lost in a moment.
How do you build trust with the people you serve? Here are four places to start:
Be Consistent. Someone once likened trust-building with making deposits in a bank. It’s amazing how much wealth can be accumulated with small amounts applied on a consistent basis. Trust is earned the same way … day in and day out. The small things matter: returning the phone call, replying to the email, showing up to the appointment on time, following through with a commitment you made.
Be Capable. People trust people who do things well. A track record of successes, both small and large, establishes us as capable people—the kind of people who can be trusted because we have the skills and expertise that can be counted on.
Be Confidential. Nothing erodes trust like breaking a confidence. Confidentiality means you are a dead end. One of the great privileges in ministry is when someone says to us, “I’ve never told anybody this …” That is a sacred moment. You are trusted. And unless the law requires you to act on what you have learned, what you know now stays with you. Be careful of taking something shared with you in private and turning it into a sermon illustration. You may not have revealed your source, but your source may not be feeling very safe.
Be Caring. In order for people to trust you, they must believe you want the best for them. Every act of compassion builds trust—a visit to the hospital, praying for someone in need, giving a listening ear—all demonstrate your level of care for people.
BEFORE YOU GO…
Here’s another question … Do you trust others? Why or why not? In ministry we have all been hurt and disappointed. It’s easy to become cynical. Trust sometimes requires trying again.