Interpersonal Leadership: Trust-Building
“Rebuilding Trust: Preparing to Begin Again” (SL#83)
by Lloyd Elder, Th.D., adapted from SkillTrack® Vol. 7.2 - Trust-Building

Matthew 5:23-24“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.” (NIV)

1. Building Trust? Yes, and Rebuilding Trust

2. Scripture Teaches Rebuilding Trust

Most often without using the term for trust, the biblical record teaches us to rebuild trust and to move on in our spiritual and vocational life; let’s review and apply a few:

3. Learning from Trusted Leaders

4. Ten Trust-Building Practices and Behaviors

“Mistrusting groups self-destruct. When members mistrust each other, they repel and separate. Members of mistrusting groups turn against each other. They pursue their own interests.” --The Leadership Triad, p. 124

This closing section has two practical purposes: First, to summarize a check list of specific actions you may pursue, and Second, assess your present plan of actions to restore broken trust; using a scale from 1-low-to-5-high to answer the following question: “Am I already pursuing this suggested practice and behavior to rebuild trusting relationships?”

1) ___Follow biblical instructions related to repairing broken relationships. Some of these are earlier reviewed and applied in section #2, such as: responsible initiative, reconciliation, forgiveness, changed behavior, and the higher good. Reconciliation with God is the most empowering environment for restoration between us frail human beings.

2) ___Rebuild, by building trust, following the reported strategies in previous articles in this series: be trustworthy and trusting, communicate clearly, be honest and consistent, take responsibility and practice your ministry competently, encourage others, and pursue a great cause with vision.

3) ___ Reflect on the broken trust. Begin from the ground up, laying brick by brick. Seek to answer a two-fold question: “How has trust been broken, and what is my responsibility for the break?”

4) ___Show mutual respect. Establish mutual expectations and engage together in new beginnings by asking the question, “How did we get to this point?” “What can we do about our relationship?” “I need to listen to your feeling.”

5) ___ Lay the first brick, forgiving and being forgiven: “I'm sorry for my role in our troubled relationship. Will you forgive me for breaking my promise to help your son while he was in trouble?”

6) ___ Express your feelings, and pay attention to how others truly feel about the relationship. Do not manipulate; valued relationships can be fragile, so care for them consistently.

7) ___Communicate, communicate, communicate: stay focused on the troubled trust issue at hand; be clear with truth, facts, and feelings; give and get significant feedback; and monitor progress or the lack of it. Always keep communication two-way.

8) ___Make restitution, if that is possible, for damage done by the broken trust. When you take the security of trust away from another, what can you contribute toward restoring it?

9) ___Change your behavior patterns, from negative to positive. “Measure me, not by new promises, but by my behavior and actions; by my ministry performance.” Stephen R. Covey affirms: “You can’t talk yourself out of problems you behave yourself into.”

10)___Be patient; give time for the process of rebuilding trust to create change. Back away if necessary. Wounds of the spirit and of relationships must heal from the inside out.

Closing Reflections on Trust-Building:

“Among the most essential qualities of human spirit are to trust oneself and build trust with others.”--Gandhi

Each one of us has to see to our own life and leadership task of trust-building. Write your own case study of trust-building. What great life-changing “sayings,” concepts, or examples have been passed along to you by others? How have you built your life around them? Could you draw on those sayings, your own experience, and this series of articles on building trust to describe how you will sustain trusting relationships? You may even want to work through this study again. When it comes to trust, it always starts with you--and the Lord. My lifetime biblical text has encouraged and challenged me along the way. I close with this wisdom:

Proverbs. 3:5-6: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”

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© 2008; hosted and copyrighted by Lloyd Elder & Associates, Inc.
For full citation of referenced works, see Bibliography/Links at
Adapted by Lloyd Elder, Th.D., Founding Director, Moench Center for Church Leadership