I recently came across this quote from Steven Covey, the noted organizational expert:
“Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.”
Indeed, trust— “the belief that someone is good and honest and will not harm you,” as defined in the Cambridge English Dictionary —is undeniably critical to human interaction, whether between persons, groups, or organizations. Given that, it should be no surprise that human fallenness includes a penchant for distrust, a tendency the evil one will constantly seek to stir and exploit.
I have noticed that maintaining trust among churches and ministry organizations is a challenging task, especially when it comes to trusting those in authority. Consider that in any particular church, there may be a few persons who suspect the church board is likely trying to “put one over” on the church body. In the meantime, a board member might be thinking the pastor is trying to somehow bamboozle the church board. A local church could be tempted to wonder if the region might be seeking to hoodwink the churches. Simultaneously, there might be some in a particular region that feel the denomination is probably seeking to “pull a fast one” on the regions.
Personally, I have had the God-granted blessing of serving on each of those levels over the course of thirty-five years of ministry. Never in any of those meetings, whether local church, region, or denomination, do I recall a leadership discussion focused on “finding a way to pull one over on the people we serve.” Instead, I’ve found those boards and teams have consistently sought to do the best they could to honor God and faithfully serve those who entrusted them with authority.
Still, distrust persists in the fabric of our fallenness. That’s why Scripture includes several statements which challenge us not to let it “snowball” on us, including these:
“[Love] always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” (1 Corinthians 13:7) “Walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love.” (Ephesians 4:1-2)
“But Jeff, what if someone has indeed proven untrustworthy?” Indeed, in our broken reality, we face direct evidence that human beings are not always 100 percent trustworthy. Therefore, it is important to note that a study of the word “trust” in Scripture reveals that by far the one we are primarily and repeatedly urged to trust is God Himself. To quote Proverbs 3:5-6:
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”
Trust is crucial to all relationships, and we must seek to trust and love others. Understanding this ability can only flow from our trust in a God who will never prove untrustworthy, even when others fail us.