This year marks the 40th anniversary of Mars Hill Productions! In this devotional series, president, Fred Carpenter is reflecting on the important lessons of God that have guided us in ministry and led us into a deeper understanding of His ways.
Most would agree that trust is an important component to a healthy relationship or an effective team. But let’s be honest. Who do you trust so much that you would share your deepest darkest secrets? Is there really anyone who you believe always puts your best interest above their own?
Navy Seals are taught, when entering a building where they expect to engage the enemy, that one Seal is to focus only on clearing the left side of the room, and another is to focus only on clearing the right side. They must not turn away from that on which they are to fix their focus. Only through extensive training and discipline is it possible to truly trust that your partner is covering your blindside by doing his job, and doing it well.
I am very aware that partnering among ministries is vital to the completion of the Great Commission, and that partnering requires trust. However, the greatest misstep I have made as the leader of Mars Hill was when I suspended our policy to follow a proven protocol for creating translations of The HOPE, and I trusted a ministry partner to do things that I later discovered he could not do. It was a very costly mistake on many levels, but it was also one of my greatest life lessons. Since that time, I’ve put a great deal of thought-time into the subject of trust.
There are many examples of what a person might trust in. A person might . . .
- Trust in God
- Trust in other people – i.e. – a spouse, friend or colleague
- Trust in organizations and institutions – i.e. – the government, your company, your Church
- Trust in processes and things – i.e. – trust in a tried way of doing something, trust in a car, boat or plane to get you where you need to be
Whenever any of these fail us or seem to have failed us, there is a breach of trust and we feel betrayed. But to stop trusting is to become an island, and no one can live that way. So, how should we approach this matter of trust?
The very first breach of trust in human history occurred when Satan, in the form of a serpent, came to Eve in the Garden of Eden at the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Eve told Satan what God said about the forbidden tree, “You shall not eat from it or touch it, lest you die.” Satan responded, “You surely shall not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it, your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” See Genesis 3:1-5. Watch The HOPE, chapter 3.
At first, it appears that Satan is simply contradicting God, or at least trying to re–interpret what God has said. He seems to be trying to get Eve to question whether she really heard what she thought she heard. Instigating doubt and confusion is certainly one of Satan’s primary tactics.
But if you dig more deeply, there appears to be even more to Satan’s strategy. In his line, “You surely shall not die!” you can almost hear him saying to Eve, “Oh, come now. God wouldn’t do that to you …would He?” Satan is leading Eve to question God’s intentions toward her. Then he follows up with, “For God knows that in the day you eat from it, your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” This sounds like Satan is hinting that perhaps God doesn’t really want Eve to become all she can be, which would then cause her to wonder, “Does God really want what is best for me?” At that moment, Eve listened to a lie and her trust in God was compromised. When Eve ate the fruit, and then gave the fruit for Adam to taste, that distrust was compounded by the entrance of the power of sin into the world.
From that time on, every person who has ever lived has deep-rooted trust issues. Distrust lurks within the recesses of our soul. The capacity for unmitigated trust will not be restored until the day in which God makes all things new, and the power of sin is completely eradicated. Oh, what a day that will be!
Trust and faith are similar, but there are significant differences between them. Faith is a noun – i.e. “I have faith in him.” Trust is most often a verb. – i.e. “I trust him.” Faith usually precedes trust.
- When it comes to God – Faith in God is a gift is a gift from God. As our faith in Him grows, it should be reflected in our actions. We trust Him by giving our lives to Him and following Him. (as the song goes “trust and obey”.)
- When it comes to man – Faith in another human (unless it is a faith given to us by God) takes time to grow. And, as faith grows, the ability to trust increases. Trust is built over time.
So, how do we increase faith and build trust in each other? I believe this question comes down to 4C’s.
- Consistency – This is listed first because I believe it is the most important. Whether it is a person or a process, trustworthiness is built over time. Would you trust a surgeon who said, “By the way, this is the first time I’ve ever performed this operation.”
- Competency – Different people are competent in different things and at different levels. You might trust a doctor to do a knee replacement, and another to perform open heart surgery, but you probably wouldn’t want the orthopedic surgeon to operate on your heart or the heart surgeon to replace your knees. Competency is tested through consistency.
- Connection through Communication & Community – Whether it is in a marriage, the workplace, or an elite team of Navy Seals, trust is a function of healthy relationship, and healthy relationship is a function of trust. They feed each other. No human being (other than Jesus, the God-man) is capable of perfection. Even in their best attempt to be consistent and competent, people will fail. And what happens when they fail will either build or destroy trust.
Every person needs to feel significant and valued. If our worth is dependent on our perfect performance, then failure can be devastating. But if we are absolutely committed to each other’s well-being (like the Seals), then failure can be viewed as just that, nothing more, nothing less. When people are loved unconditionally, they have the freedom to give it their all without the fear of failure.
This kind of connection with other people is not something that just happens. It requires time, walking together through good times and bad. It requires open and transparent communication (with no hidden agendas). This is where and how we have the opportunity to live out unconditional love toward one another, which in turn breeds trust.
You could be extremely competent and consistent, but you won’t be trusted if the other person doubts that you have his/best interest at heart. No one has ever built trust among his followers better than Jesus, and He said, “Love one another, just as I have loved you.” – Jn. 15:12.
- Calling – This is something that Christians, of all people, should look to as a foundation for trust. If a brother or sister is called to the team, then trust should ultimately be in the One who did the calling. In other words, you can trust Jesus in that person. We are all a work in progress, but we can be certain that He is faithful to fulfill the purpose to which He has called a person. Phil. 1:6, 1 Thess. 5:23-24, Phil. 2:13, Eph. 4:12, Heb. 13:20, 2 Thess. 1:11.
In closing, I want to reaffirm that trust is a vital component of any effective team. In a way, it comes down to the risk/reward continuum. Yes, there is a risk in trusting. But the reward of a relationship built on unbroken trust always outweighs anything that might be at risk.
A few final words of wisdom . . .
- “Without trust, there is no SEAL team.” – Rob Roy, 20 years as a Navy SEAL (including service on the legendary SEAL Team Six)
- A trustworthy man is rare. – “Many a man proclaims his own loyalty, but who can find a trustworthy man?” – Pro 20:6
- It is better to trust God than our own minds. – “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.” – Pro 3:5
- Stewards of the Gospel must be trustworthy. – “Let a man regard us in this manner, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. In this case, moreover, it is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy.” – 1Co 4:1-2
- Can God trust you with the Gospel? – “. . . we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. . .” – 1 Thes.2:4
Related Devotional on Trust: Can God Trust You to Share in the Fellowship of His Sufferings