RELATIONSHIP: The Thing About Trust

Trust is a dangerous thing. You give it when you determine it is deserved. We lavish it on those we esteem, those we have given leadership of our lives to.

It is a dangerous thing because it can be betrayed. Like the business or church leader we faithfully served under, who may now be known for all he was; perhaps some kind of scoundrel.

The more we admire people, the more we trust them, and the more shattered we are when that trust is betrayed.

Time to explain where this article comes from. Like a good many Christians, I find that God speaks to me. He speaks to me in tones of truth, and certainly by gentle rebuke.

Recently, as I helped my son do his work before school, working on the nuances of writing sight words, God showed me the potential damage a person doing the role like mine could cause in a school. I work as a school chaplain, and I know first-hand just how much trust my principal, deputy, other staff, parents, and ultimately the schoolchildren place in me to do my role in a way that honours them and does not damage them.

Yet God showed me, in the massive amount of trust placed in me to do my role, there is an enormous amount of damage a person in my role could do simply by abusing the trust placed in me. One significant moment of folly.

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The more trust that is given, the more trustworthy a person is seen to be, the more damage is done within communities, when that trust is betrayed. There are circumstances and events that mean that when trust is broken, there is no going back, and some damage – too much damage – cannot be undone.

How do I and other pastoral leaders reflect on this? Surely it commands reflection… !

I can only respond by saying I fear God for that kind of moral departure within the communities I work within.

I cannot afford to take for granted the trust that is placed in me because of the role I do. It is a privilege – and read the word privilege in the right way – simply to be relied upon to be a caring person.

Not just anyone gets to hear the things that I hear.

And not just anyone gets to say the things that I have the freedom and duty to say.

How could I not otherwise walk into every situation I face without respect? How can I discharge my duties well without enduring periods in fear and trembling for what damage I might do?

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I can tell you that I live daily in the land of the sorts of damage I could easily do. This, for me, is the fear of the Lord. It is God’s constant reminder of the honour and duty of ministry in his name.

The thing about trust is it’s the most precious resource.

If relationships are the purpose of life, and I believe they are, then trust gives life its purpose.

We only find out how precious when it has been completely obliterated! I know for certain I would always rather be on the receiving end of betrayal than to be the hand giving it out. There is something abundantly safer, not to mention godlier, in suffering at the hand of wrongdoing than in projecting that suffering into others’ lives. That is a burden I so wish never to carry.

I have found this to be true. Hold trust lightly, knowing that it is human nature to trust too much only to have it destroyed. Hold trust heavily, knowing that the fate of those who trust you is in your hands. God help us.

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