The question of trust is one of far reaching magnitude. Trust is a cornerstone of leadership. The moment followers cannot trust you, they will look for another leader. General H. Norman Schwarzkopf said, “Leadership is a potent combination of strategy and character. But if you must be without one, be without strategy.”
History records men who failed to find success in leadership because they lost trust. The Watergate scandal is a prime example of the consequences when trust is lost. Richard Nixon’s resignation speech indicated the results in congress.
While it is true, followers must be able to trust their leader, a greater spiritual application exists. We know the necessity of trusting God. We have all heard sermons, listened to prayers, and read passages emphasizing trust. Scripture teaches us to “trust in the Lord with all our heart” Pro. 3:5-7.
However, there is another angle we must consider. Can God trust us? The question penetrates the heart of every child of God and it should be an arrow into the heart of every leader. Can God trust us to lead His people in the direction of truth? Can He trust us to establish a foundation for people to reach heaven?
Trust is vital, but how do we build trust?
1) Demonstrate reliability. One of the greatest ways to build trust is to be trustworthy, reliable. The old adage “my word is my bond” is critical for leadership trust. Jesus said, “let your statement be, ‘yes, yes’ or ‘no, no.'” Trust results when others observe the genuine nature of following through on our word.
2) Be ready and willing to sacrifice. People know we love them by the sacrifices we make in leading them. Years ago I heard a phrase deserving of thought, “love is not so much what you give, its what you give up.” Leadership requires sacrifice. What are you and I willing to give up to lead God’s people? Will we give up our own comforts for the comfort of others? Will we put others above self?
3) Avoid hypocrisy. Hypocrisy is destructive to leadership at every level. The 80’s seemed to be a time when many of the spiritual leaders in America fell prey to immorality and unethical practices, i.e. Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Bakker. Trust was lost. The same occurs today when a leader’s life is not consistent with their message. Kouzes and Posner say “the video needs to match the audio.”
4) Seek and follow wise counsel. Wisdom is gained through experience and listening to others. Good leaders will counsel others who have walked the path and experienced similar struggles. Solomon wrote, “a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel.” However, it does little good to seek wise counsel and not put it in practice. Mistakes can be avoided in leadership through the wise counsel of others.
5) Trust God. The plaguing question is “how do I trust God.” Noah demonstrated trust in God by being obedient in all things. Abraham demonstrated trust in his willingness to sacrifice is son, Isaac. Hezekiah demonstrated trust through prayer, not relying on his own power, but God’s. Perhaps the answer to trusting in God is found in the need for us to obey Him in all areas, be willing to do whatever it takes, and stop trying to do it by our own power and rely upon God.