If trust has become an endangered species, how can we turn the tide towards restoration?
It almost seems that the word trust has disappeared from our vocabulary. How often do you use or think the word trust in your daily experience? But perhaps more than disappearing from our language, trust is becoming more and more rare in our daily lives. Trust is seen so rarely these days that you can almost think of it as an endangered species.
Who Do You Trust?
We’ve come to the point of asking the same question that The Joker asked in Batman. “And now folks, it’s time for “Who Do You Trust”(1).
For more than 20 years, the Edelman Trust Barometer(2) has independently surveyed trust and credibility. They call trust “the ultimate currency” when it comes to relationships. You can well imagine their findings.
- The world is ensnared in a vicious cycle of distrust, fueled by a growing lack of faith in media and government.
- Failure of leadership makes distrust the default assumption in all areas of life.
- While government and media are primarily responsible when it comes to distrust, all stakeholders are accountable.
- Social media leads the pack in the distrust category, falling further and further behind.
You can see trust shrinking in all areas of life: at work, in our families, with our friends, at church. We distrust leaders and their motives at every level of life, from the local PTA up to the highest levels of our national government.
Listen to how they define trust.
Trust is the foundation of all deep and meaningful personal relationships. It is what makes you feel safe being vulnerable to another, allows relationships to endure through difficult times, and gives you the confidence to bet your future on someone. Without trust, there is no intimacy and very little long-term potential for a relationship to grow and deepen (3).
Let’s take a moment to dig into that definition as it relates to small groups.
- Trust is the foundation – trust is not one of many things that make up a foundation. No, trust is THE one and only foundation. Period. Without trust, deep and meaningful personal relationships are flat impossible. There is NO substitute.
- Trust makes you feel safe – you can have all the data in the world, even have apps repeating safe messages. But without trust, there will be no vulnerability, there will be no transparency, there will be no accountability.
- Trust allows relationships – without trust, you cannot get through the tough times. This lack of trust certainly helps explain why so many people have struggled mightily during the pandemic.
- Trust gives confidence – no one opens-up, becomes vulnerable, without trust. Trust is the glue that allows people to commit, giving their time, money, talents, lives to something bigger than themselves.
- Trust makes intimacy possible – the deepest hurts, the most sensitive parts of life, remain shutoff, buried, unreachable without trust. We are only willing to open-up and uncover ourselves with people we trust.
- Trust nourishes growth – we are all stuck in our ruts of life without trust. Trust is the good soil where relationships grow. Trust feeds an openness and optimism towards God, life, and others.
Turning the Tide
So, how do we turn the tide when it comes to trust? Here are four, concrete steps that we need to start and maintain.
- Leadership – people want and need leadership when it comes to trust. You have to be willing to get out in front of it by being in front of people. You may not think yourself capable, but God wants to and can use you.
The Lord said to him, “Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.”
- Progress – you rebuild trust through small steps. There is no “one-and-done” solution. Hearts and minds will not change overnight, demonstrate and communicate change over time. This alone is what will encourage people.
So we rebuilt the wall till all of it reached half its height, for the people worked with all their heart.
- Long-Term – your thinking, decision making, and communication need to be transported from the tyranny of the immediate to a deeply rooted view that values people and your core values more than a temporary blip.
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
- Credibility – providing trustworthy, consistent information that is absolutely fact-based is critical to changing the distrust cycle. Anything less will rekindle distrust and cries of “I told you so.”
All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.
It’s Not Too Late
Forty years ago, the American Bald Eagle was in danger of extinction. Habitat destruction, illegal hunting, and the contamination of food sources decimated the eagle population. A number of conservation actions taken by governmental agencies and the American public helped Bald Eagles make a remarkable recovery. Bald eagles no longer need Endangered Species Act protection because their population is protected, healthy, and growing.
Couldn’t this also become the story of trust? But for it to become a reality, it MUST start with God’s people.
If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place.
2 Chronicles 7:14,15
Earn the trust of the people in your circle. Today, tomorrow, always
(3) Measuring Trust: A Prerequisite to Unlocking Growth, November 2021, Page 5
Chet Gladkowski is the Founder of GLAD Associates, Inc. (a) and author of “Have Yourself a Merry COVID-Christmas”(b). He has also launched National Day of Hope(c). His latest books, Hope is Like Steamed Crabs (d) and Hope is Like Barbeque Ribs (e) are available through Amazon.