Have you ever heard someone tell you something that seems a bit too much to believe or unreasonable, and after seeing the look on your face says to you: “Trust me! I know what I’m talking about?” or “I know what I’m doing.” Some say that trust can be taught, by focusing on your weaknesses in any one of four trust components: Creditably, Reliability, Confidentiality, or Self-orientation. Truth is, it’s easier to learn to listen and understand than it is to develop trust-based on expertise.

However, in my many years of dealing with people, I prefer to say that trust is more than something you learn, trust is something you earn. As mentioned above, trust is made up of four important components. Do people really believe you without a lot of evidence? Are you reliable and trustworthy? Can people trust you to keep a secret?  And, are you partnering with them based on your self-interest or theirs? Credibility is all about what we say, our skills, and credentials. Reliability is all about the actions we take and our predictability. Confidentiality is tied to how comfortable people are confiding in us. And self-orientation is all about empathy instead of sympathy.

For Dominque O’Rourke, President of Accolade Communications, Trust equals ability plus kindness plus integrity. This formula has been generally accepted as a psychological definition of interpersonal trust. While it’s a solid place to start, it doesn’t take into account many factors like differences in culture, their circle of friends, or the ability to learn and adapt.

Even in an organization, as well as in society, the home, or a friendship, trust is a relationship. You have to trust a person. As in any relationship, there generally exists some mutual exchange and personal connection. It is wise to accept the person you trust as personal-dependent than co-dependent.

Trust also involves risk. There has to be a possibility of a loss, a vulnerability that the other will act opportunistically or in a self-serving manner – otherwise, you’re talking about confidence, faith, or co-operation. There exists a “freedom to disappoint” the other’s expectations even though you trusted them.

Furthermore, trust has a positive expectation. Despite the risk, the trustor and the trustee believe something good will come of the decision to trust. Otherwise, they would not accept the relationship. While some people equate trust with predictability and reliability, it is possible that someone will sometimes be late or unkind. So, while predictability and reliability are often elements of trust, they are not all-sufficient, nor are they synonymous.

We find that trust involves goodwill or kindness. It is the magic and essential ingredient to trust. Kindness is the extent to which you consider the needs of the other party, going beyond your own needs.

Added to this, trust is freely given. You can be pressured into co-operating, but you cannot be forced to trust. Friends, and even strangers, must create conditions where people choose to trust. For example, members of the local fire station can be mandated to work together in a disaster relief situation. They must co-operate but cannot be forced to trust one another. However, mechanisms can be put in place to help foster initial levels of trust. This is another way of saying that you’ve earned their trust.

We also see that trust is dynamic and ever-changing. The degree and type of trust changes with new information. With each interaction, trustors assess capacity, integrity, reliability, kindness, and a host of factors. As trust grows, it can be transformed into a deeper and more resilient type of trust.

Trust moves among interpersonal levels. You’ve experienced this yourself. Eventually, you get to know the people around you and are aware of some that have a great work ethic and go the extra mile for you, so you build trust.

Not only that, but trust is generative. It creates more trust! Not only does trust move and change, but it also increases or decreases. That is, trust can build on itself in a positive spiral or decrease in a negative spiral that is extremely difficult to stop or reverse. Trust has a built-in feedback loop because you receive new information with every interaction and from the context. The more trustworthy signals you receive, the more trust increases.

Trust has proven to be multi-dimensional. There are psychological elements to trust, such as “a tendency to trust.” You can measure and assess these factors based on past history and reputation to gauge potential risks and benefits. Our trust in others varies by type of relationship.

Some think that trust builds over time…Or does it?  While we expect the length of a past relationship to be indicative of trust, many studies have found this NOT to be the case all the time. In fact, the length of a past relationship has been shown to quickly shatter when current circumstances question the validity of such trust. There was a gap before trust began to build. Rather than focus on the past, trust seems to be predicated on the vision and promise of the length of a future relationship.

And finally, trust can be a cause, an outcome, or a mediating variable. Sometimes trust exists in the first place and is the cause of a collaboration. In other cases, trust has to develop and is an outcome. In the end, trust is a factor that leads to higher productivity or better outcomes, then it is considered a mediating variable or factor.

Fortunately, the Bible has much to say about trust. To begin with, it tells when it comes to the secrets of our heart, we should put your full trust in a neighbor to keep it quiet, nor put any confidence in a friend who may let it slip out, even the one we hold in our arms might unintentionally betray us.[1] Rather, it is better to put your trust in the LORD than in your fellow human beings.[2] For the LORD said that misfortune will come upon those who solely trust in others with their plans, who decide to depend on their own strength to get them through. Such people are those who’ve turned their hearts away from God.[3] We also read that we are not to totally trust in government or any official to be there when we need them. They can give no guarantee for our well-being.[4]

Instead, when you are afraid, put your trust in the LORD, don’t always try to work out things on your own.[5] You can do that by committing everything in your life into God’s hands; trust in Him, He will be there to help.[6] When you trust in God’s unchanging and never-ending love, your heart will rejoice when it all works out in your favor.[7] Because the person who goes first to the LORD and does not try to accomplish everything on their own, and puts their trust in the LORD, and does not listen to lies, will be victorious.[8] That’s because those who know Your reputation put their trust in You, for You, O LORD, have not forsaken those who run to You.

Furthermore, God will bring perfect peace to those whose minds are focused on Him because they trust in Him. So, trust in the Lord every time, for the LORD, God is an immovable rock.[9] That’s why blessings will come to those who trust in the LORD. They are like a tree planted near water, that sends out its roots toward the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for their leaves remain green, while others become anxious about lack of water. They never cease to bear fruit.[10] They are also not afraid when they hear bad news; their heart is firm; their trust is in the LORD.[11]

So, when Jesus was about to ascend back into heaven to be at the right hand of the Father, He told His anxious disciples not to be faint of heart. If they trust God, they can also trust Him.[12] He will be back to get them at the appropriate time. The same is true of any believer. At times they may feel that Jesus has left them alone to deal with their hardships on their own. But the truth is, He’s right by their side, waiting for them to be ready to receive the help He wants to give them. Be like the Psalmist who said: In God, whose Word I adore, in God I trust; I will not be afraid.[13] God is more than willing to do His part, the question is, are you ready to trust Him? – Dr. Robert R Seyda

[1] Micah 7:5-6

[2] Psalm 118:8

[3] Jeremiah 17:5

[4] Psalm 146:3-5

[5] Psalm 56:3-4

[6] Psalm 37:5

[7] Psalm 13:5

[8] Psalm 40:4

[9] Isaiah 26:3-4

[10] Jeremiah 17:7-8

[11] Psalm 112:7

[12] John 14:1

[13] Psalm 56:4

About drbob76

Retired missionary, pastor, seminary professor, Board Certified Chaplain and American Cancer Society Hope Lodge Director.
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