(Part 1 of 2)
“Just trust me!” never cuts it. Max DePree said, “Trust cannot be bought or commanded, inherited, or enforced. To maintain it, leaders must continually earn it.”
Now, I know that the Bible says that, ultimately, we put our trust in God, not others. People can always let us down. Psalm 118:8 says, “It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man.” It is only God we are to trust in with all our heart (Proverbs 3:5).
However, trust is essential for healthy and strong relationships. Pastors can’t care for others without trust. Only as we trust each other can we work together and openly share our hurts and dreams.
That’s why this headline was so startling to me: “Public Trust in Pastors Falls to Historic Low” For the third straight year, trust in pastors has dropped according to a Gallup poll — it’s down to 32% (Lifeway Research). How sad!
Today’s blog looks at some reasons why trust in pastors is down, and my next blog will be about how we can build trust.
I’m not sure of all the factors that have contributed to this decline, but here are a few:
- Dropped Balls: Some pastors haven’t followed through on things. They haven’t done what they said they would do. People notice this. Trust is built on the little things.
- Scandals and Controversies: Unfortunately, many high-profile cases of pastors and other religious leaders being involved in scandals or controversies, such as financial impropriety, sexual misconduct, or abuse of power. These failures can shake the faith of others and erode trust in the church as a whole.
- Political and Cultural polarizations: In recent years, politics has become increasingly divisive, and many pastors have taken public positions on political issues or candidates. COVID, Cultural Issues, masks, and vaccines have added to the confusion. Everyone has an opinion, and a strong one at that. Some view their pastors as more partisan than pastoral. Others think their pastor hasn’t taken a strong enough stand. All of this chips away at trust.
- Social Media: The internet has made it easier for people to express their opinions and share information, but it has also made it easier for rumors and misinformation to spread quickly. Unfortunately, pastors and other church leaders may be the targets of criticism or false accusations. Gossip and spin always erode trust.
- Disconnection: In general, church attendance continues to decline in America. COVID was a catalyst to disengage many from their church family and pastor. Without close relationships, it isn’t easy to build trust.
- Dishonesty. Pastors can tell white lies too. They haven’t been as open and vulnerable as they could have been. Maybe they have shared part of the truth but not all of it. Sometimes a pastor must keep confidences, but even then, that can look duplicitous to some.
- No Accountability: Pastors should never be Lone Rangers. If leaders make decisions in isolation or from personal preference, trust will be compromised.
BEFORE YOU GO
So, what do you think has eroded the trust in pastors? Do you agree with my list? What others would you add?
Saying “Just trust me” is meaningless without actions. Don’t be discouraged. Don’t expect too much too soon. Remember that trust takes time.
If you need someone to talk to, or some formal coaching, please contact me. You can make a free appointment with me on my website: www.ascentpathways.com.
One Comment Add yours
Thanks for this.