This past week I heard Terry O’Reilly in his program Under the Influence speak on trust.
He expresses, “Trust seeps into every nook and cranny of our lives. And it is at the heart of every relationship we have. In the world of marketing, all transactions are based on relationships between sellers and buyers. But if all relationships are based on trust, and all transactions are based on relationships, how well are marketers doing in the trust column? How much does trust affect the bottom line? How fast is trust won and lost?” (http://www.cbc.ca/undertheinfluence/season-2/2013/06/02/trust-in-advertising-1/)
He continues saying, “When it comes to professions, the trust ranking is again interesting. In the U.S., Nurses ranked number one, followed by Pharmacists, Medical Doctors, Engineers and Dentists. In Canada, Firefighters ranked number one, followed by Emergency Medical Technicians, Pharmacists, Nurses, and Doctors. But the list of the most trusted industries was most telling. According to a 2013 Harris Poll, the most trusted industry in American was Technology, followed by Tourism, Retail, Consumer Products and Telecommunications. In Canada, the most trusted industry is Medical Research, followed by Tourism, Technology, Air Travel and Food Companies. While each country differed on their choices, they both agreed on one thing: The advertising industry was near the bottom of the list.” (http://www.cbc.ca/undertheinfluence/season-2/2013/06/02/trust-in-advertising-1/)
That got me to thinking. It may be that no one was asking or thinking about churches, but I do not see pastors in the top 5 of either list. However, digging a little more around the internet, I discovered that clergy do rank in the top 10 on the American list – #8 (cf. http://943thepoint.com/what-are-the-most-trusted-and-least-trusted-professions/).
Trust is important in all of life, and as pastors we ought to be one of the most trusted professions, however, we have often lost that trust by our actions, and I believe, how we have led.
Last week I focused on vulnerability and I believe that vulnerability and trust are closely linked. If we lead in ways which do not place us among the people of God, walking alongside among we are called to serve, listening, caring, growing together with them in following after Christ, participating with God in God’s mission together, then we place ourselves above the people we are called to serve – a posture and position that militates against openness (vulnerability) and the establishment of trust.
Trust comes about as we are willing to be vulnerable, transparent, being persons of integrity – even being forthcoming regarding our limitations and shortcomings. It is not about our perfection or even our ability, but our being people who are willing to be whom God is creating them to be – even with all our imperfections. It is when we put on a face, pretending to be who we are not, that people begin to wonder if we really are who we are. And if people wonder who we are – not only might we be seen as less trustworthy, but we will also be less effective in helping our congregations to become aware of God’s activity in the world.
Leading with trust ought to be one of the first priorities of our day for which we pray when we seek to live out our callings.