Trust is like finance, difficult to accrue and easy to spend.
When it comes to relying on one another we operate with varying degrees of confidence depending on a number of factors: familiarity, closeness, history etc. What those things affect and add up to is our personal trust account, the level of trustworthiness and dependability between us and others. Our accounts go up/down depending on what happens in our relationships; and this ranging from ‘minor’ entrances of suspicion into a relationship: ‘you said you’d be here at 10, it’s now 10:30’ to major ones ‘you promised never to commit adultery, and you have.’
In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus lays out his vision for what life lived under his leadership looks like. He deals with practical everyday issues like anger & lust and in chapter 5 verses 33-37 he announces his expectations for our integrity. One version of the Bible paraphrases what he says like this:
don’t say anything you don’t mean… You only make things worse when you lay down a smoke screen of pious talk, saying, ‘I’ll pray for you,’ and never doing it, or saying, ‘God be with you,’ and not meaning it. You don’t make your words true by embellishing them with religious lace. In making your speech sound more religious, it becomes less true. Just say ‘yes’ and ‘no.’ When you manipulate words to get your own way, you go wrong.
In other words Jesus says ‘don’t cross your heart and hope to die or for that matter stick a needle in your eye.’ Don’t swear on my mother’s life or even swear to God. Simply say yes when you mean yes and no when you mean no. Here’s the five things we can do that help us gain and keep trust in our relationships:
1) Do what you say you’ll do.
Keep your commitments, regardless. There’s always extenuating circumstances but those things are the exception and not the norm. To help, beware of the ‘yes, damn!’ theory. If someone asks me to do something I don’t want to do and I’ve got good excuses of why I shouldn’t do it, a simple ‘no’ comes relatively easily. But if someone asks me to do that same thing yet asks me 3 months ahead of when they want me to do it, I’m inclined to say ‘yes’ thinking ‘that’s ages away, it’ll never come around.’ But it does come around and when it does I find myself uttering an irritated ‘damn!’ and think to myself ‘next time I won’t say yes so quickly!’ Be wise to the ‘yes, damn!’ theory.
2) Admit your shortcomings.
Fallible people are easier to trust. Simple. It’s the ‘got it all together’ types or the ‘never admit my weaknesses and mistakes’ types that I find it hard to trust.
3) Opt for authenticity.
Be real and transparent with people. Avoid wearing masks or putting on a show, it helps people to trust you more.
4) When you mean ‘no’, say ‘no’.
maybe is in danger of becoming the new ‘no’, except that it isn’t a new ‘no’ it’s a cowardly, often-overly-concerned-about-another’s-feelings reply to a question we’re afraid to answer honestly. We’ve all spoken to people and known that when they said ‘I might come’ or ‘yeah, maybe’ what they meant was ‘no’, they just didn’t say it. The consequence of saying maybe too often is simply this – it empties your trust account.
5) Avoid exaggeration.
Exaggerating the truth is as much a form of dishonesty as lying. ‘How many people were at the party?’ Everyone! ‘What was the film like?’ Life changing! It’s easy to spot in some areas, like the above examples, but in other areas it’s more subtle. For example, my wife calls at the end of a working day. She’s preparing dinner and wants to know how long I’ll be, ‘I’m leaving now.’ I reply when in actual fact I’m not, I haven’t even started shutting my computer down. ‘I’ll be 5 minutes’ I tell her, knowing full well I’ll be 15. What happens in these moments is that she learns, over time that she can’t trust what I say. My exaggeration only helps reduce the amount in my trust account with my wife.
The above was taken from a message given at Kings Church Seaford as part of our Sermon on the Mount teaching series. Kings Seaford meets every Sunday, 10am at Seaford Head School, Arundel Road site. For more audio and video content from Kings Church, please visit www.kingsseaford.eu/media or www.kingschurch.eu/media