For months we’ve had rioting in the streets, elections at the highest level in our nation inundated with accusations of fraud, churches fractured over leadership decisions, a news media that’s increasingly biased by personal opinion, a pandemic that’s gripped the world, and a tragic suicide bombing on Christmas morning. Fear and lack of trust are rampant. How did we get to this point?
Satan. Satan always aims at trust when he wants to divide because trust affects love. The more intimately we trust someone, the more capacity we have to love them. The less we trust them, the harder it is to love them. As Christians, we’re known by our love, so if trust is destroyed, then love is diminished. In the garden, Satan challenged Adam and Eve with a question of trust. He accused God of holding out on them. Trust issues create suspicion, ulterior motives, distance and often a broken relationship with others and God. The bullseye for Satan.
The more intimately we trust someone, the more we love them. Because we love them, it’s easier to extend more grace with idiosyncrasies and relational stumbles. A loved one may do something or say something that offends someone, and we say, “they didn’t mean it that way.” But when our trust factor lowers, it harder to love. Even with a loved one, when poor behavior continues, we become guarded and are more prone to assume the worst. Broken trust creates distance and often broken relationships.
Most of us have a fair amount of self -trust, and we tend to judge ourselves based on our intentions versus our behavior. Others will judge our trust factor based on our behavior, not our intentions. Words declare our intent but what we do has a far more significant effect than what we say. We all know the adage “Actions speak louder than words.”
So how do we establish, protect, or re-establish trust? TRUST MUST BE DEMONSTRATED.
Ten ways to Demonstrate trust
Be Respectful: The little things are the big things at home. Research shows that face to face communication regarding attitudes and feelings is 7% of what people say, 38% is how they say it, and 55% is their body language. Be mindful of your tone, give the speaker your attention physically, turn toward them as you listen, and use words that respectfully express your feelings. Emotionally, a huff and a puff really can blow the house down.
Be Transparent: Transparency means you can see through something. Be open with your feelings and thoughts; it’s about being real and genuine. Transparency is based on honesty, integrity and vulnerability. Don’t sugar coat whatever the situation is, NO SPIN! Ask yourself the question, “ Am I withholding information that should be shared?”
Right Your Wrongs: QUICKLY! This is more than apologizing. Matthew 5:23-24 teaches us that we must go quickly and seek resolution if we become aware that someone has something against us. Sometimes righting our wrongs is making restitution, something to correct or make up for the mistake if possible. It could be as little as breakfast in bed, or it could be more substantial. We all make mistakes, but the key is what will we do about them. Will we rationalize them, or will we choose to honor those we’ve wronged with humility and courage?
Be Loyal:. Be loyal to your loved one in speaking respectfully of them to others. Acknowledge what they do or have done to affirm their value in what they do and who they are. Give credit where credit is due and assume the best. Keep confidences. Speak about someone as though they were in the room.
Confront Reality: Remove the elephant in the room. Share the bad news and the good news; this may take a healthy dose of courage. Address reality with truth and grace; facts should be stated with respect and empathy, not brutality and arrogance.
Clarify Expectations: We tend to expect the same behavior and role responsibilities that we experienced in our childhood homes. Don’t leave this to assumptions. With an agreement, but without discussion, write down three areas in your marriage that cause you frustration. Then ask yourself, what expectation do I have here that’s not being met? Then together, share your insights and expectations. Clarify your expectations, agree on how to help maintain them, and jointly agree on a plan to measure results. Met expectations breed trust.
Accountability: Trust is earned. If trust has been broken, then accept with humility that your loved one will need and want assurances of your behavior. If you suspect trust has been broken, you must ask the clarifying questions with humility, not accusations. Once the truth is revealed, agree to a plan of accountability. This may include an accountability partner, a professional counselor, a monitor on a device, or an agreement to attend an AA group.
In cases where severe damage has occurred due to grave sin, seek sound pastoral counsel and facilitators skilled at peace-making. The extent of accountability depends on the breach.
Listen First, Speak Last: It’s imperative to listen to understand with respect. We’ve all heard the criticism that someone talks too much. Have you ever heard anyone complain that someone listens too much? When you genuinely listen first and speak last, you gain insight and understanding, demonstrating respect. Listening creates openness, knowledge and trust, which promotes solutions. Listen with your eyes and heart for feelings. Try to hear things through the ears of others and see things through their eyes.
Keep your Commitments: This is the #1 trust builder: Do what you say you’re going to do. The quickest way to build trust is to do what you say you’re going to do, and the fastest way to lose trust is to break the commitment or violate the promise. When you make a commitment, you build hope; when you keep it, you build trust. Commitments are vital to trust.
Extend Trust: This is where trust moves from a noun to a verb. When we extend trust we bring out the best in people, and it motivates us to accomplish the goal.
Recently, someone asked me where I thought culture was formed, and I responded, “In the home.” Trust is vital to a thriving family culture. Make 2021 a year of building trust, and ask yourself what I will be glad I did at the close of 2021?
Lisa May is Executive Director of Live the Life South Florida. She can be reached at [email protected] or by mail at 5110 N. Federal Hwy. Suite 102, Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33308
For more articles by Lisa May, visit goodnewsfl.org/author/lisa-may/