14 Jan



The importance of trust for the church, both within a fellowship, and in the perception of those outside the church has often been understated. The traditional model of the stipendiary minister as ministry provider clearly leads to an organisation which is able to operate on a low level of trust. People may come to the church, but their involvement with it is limited to carrying out simple tasks.
Even ‘successful’ churches, with many people engaged in ministry, may be operating with relatively low levels of trust if they have not allowed people to take responsibility and accountability for the life of the church.God wants us to operate at a high level of trust – in him, and within the church. God is trustworthy. God has said “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.” So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid” (Hebrews 13:6) Leaders need to learn to rely less on their own ability, but rather to trust him completely, Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.’ (Proverbs 3:5) Our experience of placing our trust in God should increase our capability to trust, and encourage us to build trust within Christian fellowships. However, not only is God himself trustworthy, he chooses to place his trust in us. Tom Marshall(1) writes God’s trust is real trust. It is a choice He has made, and it is a vulnerability He has accepted.’ Trustworthy people have to be consistent – their actions and lifestyles set out an example of integrity and commitment. Peter Drucker(2) describes the “mirror test“, where leaders make sure that the person they see in the mirror in the morning is the kind of person they want to be, respect and believe in. If there is a lack of consistency between our public and private lives, then sooner or later we will be unable to manage the divide. We read of far too many Christian leaders who have fallen as the truth of their private lives emerges. Many people want to put their leaders on a pedestal and many others enjoy trying to knock them off! Our only remedy is to let the Spirit lead and direct our lives in full measure, to give over to him control of our time, our money and our desires. When we do this, we can have some assurance that the Spirit will point out to us those things which are not in harmony with our Christian walk, and help us to deal with them.
Pause for thought : Take the mirror test to review your trustworthiness – what potential areas of your life are you aware of that may reduce the trust people place in you? What can you do about these? For more reflection on this, look at our module on building trust.
(1) Understanding Leadership, Tom Marshall, Sovereign World, 1991
(2) The Leader of the Future, The Drucker Foundation, Jossey-Bass, 1996

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