“How to Earn People’s Trust”
Stephen Covey writes in his book, The One Thing that Changes Everything:
“There is one thing that is common to every individual, relationship, team, family, organization, nation, economy, and civilization throughout the world—one thing which, if removed, will destroy the most powerful government, the most successful business, the most thriving economy, the most influential leadership, the greatest friendship, the strongest character, the deepest love . . .
“That one thing is trust….”
2 Timothy 2:2 (NLT2)
2 …Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others.
Trust is a “reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something.”
The Truth About Trust:
- It is an indispensable part of leadership and relationships.
- It is so hard to earn and so easy to break.
- It can’t be demanded and must always be earned.
- It isn’t naturally extended to church leaders.
A recent Gallup poll suggested that Americans don’t trust anything, from used car salesmen to Supreme Court justices. The poll also included banks, television news reports, the police, public schools, and just about everything else. Probably for good reasons, 56% of those surveyed don’t trust church leaders either.
Trust is like a bank account and with every human interaction we are either depositing credits or withdrawing them. Before we make a major change in ministry and ask people to sacrifice, we have to ask, “Do I have enough credits (trust) in the bank?”
So, how do we earn the trust of others?
5 Ways of Earning Trust:
Compassion is one of the quickest ways to earn trust in others. It is earned by being there during a time of crisis or at a point of need. It is inserting yourself in someone’s pain, crisis or point of need. It is walking with them during their hurtful experiences. When a person receives from you hope, encouragement or compassion they begin trusting you in other areas as well, because they are convinced you care about them.
Romans 12:15 (NIV)
15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.
Distrust creeps in when someone is suspicious that they are being used, are seen only as a number or tool to be used. They grow suspicious when they are a means to an end.
1 Peter 5:2-3 (NIV)
2 Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers–not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; 3 not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.
Jesus uses and interacts with our care-giving moments. He increases our favor among people when we share life experiences with them. They see us not just as professionals, but as being personable. They follow us not because of the direction but they follow a person, committing to the leader before the vision. Taking time to show compassion will help you build and sustain people’s trust in you.
Your consistent and enduring presence in their lives will also build trust. Longevity will naturally increase your influence and will stand out against the backdrop of a transitory culture.
Consistency is measured by time and space; frequent interactions, sharing experiences and doing life together. Being a loner, withdrawing, staying to yourself, not communicating makes people feel insecure or suspicious around us.
Proverbs 20:6 (NLT2)
6 Many will say they are loyal friends, but who can find one who is truly reliable?
Being consistent and regular in a person’s life will enhance clarity, communication, openness and eventually trust, as they become familiar with your heart and who you truly are. Sometimes, simply spending time with a person can be a huge trust-builder!!
People will grow to respect you as they recognize God speaking through and using your gifts, life and ministry, as you competently share God’s word in accurate, applicable ways.
2 Timothy 2:15 (NLT2)
15 Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth.
We can model competency in a variety of areas in our ministry by applying wisdom, setting a vision, solving a problem, etc. As we begin accumulating more wins than losses, people begin trusting in your ability to lead. They see results in your ministry, want to be a part of winning team, movement, a cause bigger than themselves.
Courage is shown to others when we stand with them when they take the heat, are criticized or are facing opposition. Courage is displayed when we don’t believe the criticisms of them, but rather give them the benefit of the doubt. We display courage when we defend them up front in public, and if there are issues that need to be addressed, we do so privately and graciously.
We display courage when we accept the blame when an idea goes wrong, and yet give credit when an idea succeeds. People begin to trust us as we courageously protect their weaknesses and bring out the best in them.
1 John 4:18 (NIV)
18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
When someone feels safe to fail in our presence and know we have their back, they extend to us large amounts of credits and trust! This takes courage on your part as a leader, protecting them and having patience with them.
1 Timothy 3:2 (NIV)
2 Now the overseer must be above reproach…
Having character is probably the most effective way of earning and keeping people’s trust. Character is being consistent both in public and private. Character is who you are when no one is looking. Character is when your actions match your words. Character is looking more and more like Jesus to other people. Character gives us the moral authority to teach and lead others.
We display our character by keeping our promises, following through with our commitments, showing up on time, answering our texts/emails and keeping our word. We display our character when we fight temptations and live a godly life. And when we blow it, we confess and apologize.
2 Corinthians 6:3 (NLT2)
3 We live in such a way that no one will stumble because of us, and no one will find fault with our ministry.
Character allows us to be authentic and genuine, showing our true selves without the need to lie or cover up who we are. We engender trust in others when they are inspired by our character. Showiness and charisma may impress but it doesn’t garner trust, and impressing people won’t gain a long-term, sustainable following that is willing to sacrifice. A leader’s character inspires people to be better versions of themselves and believe they can grow in Christ.
1 Timothy 4:16 (NIV)
16 Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.
It is never too late to earn people’s trust! Jesus said…
Luke 16:10 (NIV)
10 “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much…
So, start in the small areas of your life! Start with what you know you can do and strengthen those areas that are most obvious.
What areas are you strong in?
What areas need improvement?
What are some steps that will help you earn trust?