Trust issues… we all have them, so let us expose them for what they really are. As I see it, there are 3 main categories that trust plays itself out on: a trust to follow, a trust to true friendship and a trust to feed.
1. A trust to follow: When it comes to growing leaders, trust is a major key (Khaled voice). We see this throughout scripture and possibly most noted, in the story of Abraham and Isaac. Yes we talk about the trust of Abraham to put his son on the altar, but let’s not overlook the trust of Isaac as well. While we don’t know exactly how old he was, he most certainly was not a young child. He was most likely in the prime of his life somewhere between being a teenager and a man in his 30’s. Isaac could have wrestled his ancient and frail father to the ground, but instead he trusted his father who trusted his God. This is of course a perfect foreshadowing of Jesus, the son, trusting God the father, except he would actually go through with that sacrifice and the Son would submit his life unto death for the Father’s will.
Many times as leaders and as people, we don’t trust those who God has put in our lives to lay us on altars and to follow. We have no record of God speaking to Isaac, instead Isaac trusted his father. Trust in this area leaves us no choice but to be vulnerable. Without question, this can lead to someone leaving your bankrupt, someone hurting you and slandering you character, someone older could misuse their authority over you, which I have had this happen in my life, but nonetheless, trusting leadership is critical.
If you want to make a dent in your lifetime, you must be willing to follow those who older than you walking in your field. Follow someone who you respect their character in some aspect of leadership, profession, family, or whatever it is that you desire to grow in. It will not work unless you are absolutely willing to listen, even when your wills cross. In this generation, we throw off institutions and authority like ripping the plastic covering off of a new iPhone. We rebel against anything that might correct us if we are headed the wrong direction and sadly it always leads to younger people lacking wisdom, spiritual authority, and the cycle continues.
2. A trust to friendship: This concept is fading fast in our culture. So often I find people who lead and they have no friends. Yes they have Facebook friends, but no meaningful friendship. Meaningful as in they invest their lives into these people. Leaders so often have people who associate themselves with them because of their gifts and talents and it can be draining. It’s true that leadership is often lonely, but that does not mean it should be an excuse to not trust people to be your friends. To be the best leader you can be, you MUST have friends around you on a peer level.
A wise sage in my life is a therapist who I meet with regularly named Dr. Zoda. He painted a picture of relationships to me in the form of tennis practice. When you are playing tennis with someone, it isn’t hard to foretell how the game is going to go depending on who you are playing against. If the person is better than you, you will learn a lesson. If the person is not as skilled as you, they will learn the lesson. These are the games most leaders find themselves in. But there is another option; when you are playing someone who is at the same level as you are, you might not win or you may get the upper-hand, but it will be almost guaranteed that each player will walk away having learned something. This picture show us that we need equals and friends who challenge us and we can challenge them. In fact, all 3 relationship are necessary to being a well-rounded player, or leader.
What I believe is the hardest obstacle to overcome when it comes to having friends is that we don’t trust people to be our friends. In short, we are scared to be vulnerable. To really trust people means they will see our flaws. Our “friends” can use these flaws to hurt us. They can give us the wrong advice, or speak out of their own insecurities. They might even be threatened by you. We cannot allow these possibilities to stifle our friendships from growing stronger and deeper. We must offer mutual grace to encourage each other and spur each other on. The Bible shows us a great example with the friendship of David and Jonathan. They were two people who balanced each other out and truly cared for each other. What was the result? They both grew. Someone on your peer level committed to a friendship with you will help you grow in a way no one else can. In a friendship there is healthy competition; I get better as a leader when I see my friends growing and it motivates me to grow where I am lacking and it pushes me to upgrade my skill set.
3. A trust to feed: What this means is it is necessary to trust what God himself has trusted us with. Many times we have this mentality that we have to be experts and we aren’t confident enough in who God has made us to be. We feel inadequate leading people, when in reality all we need to lead someone is to be one step ahead. We lack confidence and many of us have lost touch with what it means to be qualified to lead people. Our realistic approach and expectation should come from Matthew 28. Jesus sent out his disciples, he gave them “all authority.” I am sure they felt that they were not ready, but Jesus trusted them and sent them out; he empowered them.
We have to trust our own calling and at the very same time, we must trust those we feed. This doesn’t mean we won’t ever mess up or never have to apologize for saying the wrong thing. I look back and there are things I full-heartedly preached 10 years ago that I was absolutely convinced about but if I could go back, I would apologize for so much of it. The key to this, like many things, is humility.
Something that should make this easier is knowing that you will be a better leader in 10-15 years. In that time your ideas may change, you might flip up your style of leadership, but at the end of the day you were authentic and fully all you could be in each moment.