ent/uploads/2012/02/trust-300×224.jpg” alt=”” width=”300″ height=”224″ /> I have been writing about authority and our own personal authority to represent Christ in the world. I realize that we live in a culture that is suspect of authority. We have seen, time and time again, authority that is misused or abused and thus, we fear not only being under an authority but also fear being seen as having any type of authority. We see this play out to the extreme when we consider how the rugged individualism of our culture has led to us forgetting our interdependence and focused us on our independence.
This is where we must remember that if we seek to influence people for the cause of Christ, we must also remember how we do it. Knowing that Christ has called us and given us authority to preach the Gospel and renewing our commitment isn’t enough. We must also remember that our practice of leadership is critical. How we act as we seek to lead friends, family and strangers to know Christ is a direct reflection on not just ourselves but on the God we serve.
I’m sure that many of you have dealt with disappointment from leaders. These leaders may have been church or secular leaders who made promises or presented themselves in certain ways and then didn’t live up to that reality. My own spiritual journey has been uniquely informed and shaped by the disappointments I had with a childhood pastor.
As those who are seeking to proclaim Christ in our lives, we must be willing to hold ourselves to a higher standard. If we are to be the Body of Christ in the world, we must be willing to step away from the brokenness and low standards of our current world and live as those who are already citizens of the Heavenly Kingdom. This isn’t an easy road, but is our calling nonetheless.
In my mind, and echoing Joan Gray’s thoughts from “Spiritual Leadership for Church Officers”, I believe that we must show ourselves to be trustworthy. This is a foundational part of leadership in the church and our personal lives. To build and gain trust is a necessary part of our ministry. Far too many people have seen the public and private disappointments that the church has perpetrated.
Of course that means that trust must be earned. When we seek to influence people with our Christ-like life we have to show people that we are trustworthy. If we are wanting those around us to move into a relationship with Christ, we must realize that we are calling them to go to a place that is risky and uncharted in their lives. In order for folks to take a risk, we must build a trust with them. This is why I believe that the stereotypical view of evangelism is not effective. A person on the street corner has not earned our trust. The reality of personal evangelism is that it is done in trusting relationships.
Joan Gray also offers another reason why we should build trustworthy relationships as we seek to lead and draw people to follow Christ. “If people feel their leaders are trustworthy, of godly character and willing to rise above self-interest, and have good intentions, they will forgive a certain amount of ineptitude.” (pg. 13) This means that all of us who fear we don’t know enough about the Bible or how to practice our faith, can find grace from those we are seeking to lead to Christ by being trustworthy. We will find that our friends and neighbors will allow us to foul up on occasion if they know that our intentions are good.
This begs the question, “What does it look like to be trustworthy in today’s society?” Remembering that we are reflections of the God of creation, we should remember that there is a steadfast love that carries over into all of God’s relationships. Even when God exercises authority to punish, it is always couched in the reality of God’s love.
How do we reflect the love of God in Christ in such a way to build trusting relationships?