You share a closely-guarded piece of your heart with a friend, only to have her discuss and dissect it with others.
Your significant other tells you he has to stay at work late for a meeting, but someone tips you off that he was somewhere else…with someone else.
Your governing body holds a secret meeting, after which you are blindsided by the “request” for your resignation.
Trust. It is what crust is to pizza. Rails to your bed. Axles to your car. It is not only the thing on which relationships rest, it’s what holds them together. I can disagree with you, I can even dislike you. But if I trust you, I can stay engaged with you. And if you prove yourself consistently worthy of my trust, I can overlook a multitude of mistakes.
Trust is not just the bedrock of individual relationships. It’s the glue in the pastor-parish partnership and the connective tissue in congregational life as a whole. Trust between ministers and members allows them to say hard but necessary things to one another. Trust in processes keeps the church functioning. Trust in the pastor, in God, and in one another paves the way for a congregation to name a vision and pursue it, even when the plan hits a pothole. When there’s no trust, none of these things happens, and the energy churches could be spending on mission is wasted on secrecy, gossip, and agendas.
As important as trust is, it can be annihilated by a single word or the commission or omission of one action. But re-building trust is possible. In next week’s post, I’ll suggest some ways to go about it.