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Trust is earned

November 25, 2014


We don’t earn our salvation or our spiritual growth – they are gifts of grace that we receive. Even our faith is a gift of grace from God. As Christians we are comfortable with the concept of gifts that are given and not earned, but in leadership, that concept no longer applies. Positional authority, respect that is given simply because of one’s title or position, no longer exists in our society. Today we operate with the understanding that trust and respect are earned. In order for people to follow, we must demonstrate that we have their best interest at heart, have a direction, and the ability to get there.

Trust is at the very heart of leadership, and it’s earned, not given. Too often, leaders in the church are surprised by the difficulty they have in getting people to follow them because they are operating with an outdated mindset of credibility. They mistakenly think that position and Godly character will ensure followers. As Christian leaders, we place a high value on character and think integrity and pure motives, validated by positions of authority, are all the credibility we need for people to trust us. But as Steven Covey points in his book, “The Speed of Trust,” that is only half of the equation.

Our culture does care about character and purity of heart, but competence is a big factor in determining which leaders are worthy of trust. In order to earn respect and trust as a leader, you must have the skills and ability to get the job done, and the track record to prove you are able to fulfill your promises. The challenge for many ministry leaders is that they don’t have credibility with the people they desire to lead. Covey explains it this way: “People don’t trust you because you don’t get things done. And there’s no place to hide here – either you produce or you don’t. You may have an excuse. You may even have a good reason. But at the end of the day, if the results aren’t there, neither is the credibility and neither is the trust. It’s just that simple; it’s just that harsh.” 

To accomplish great things, we have to take great risks. People will not be willing to risk with a leader they don’t trust, so it’s our job as leaders to earn the trust of our people so we can lead them where God is calling us to go. And yes, getting results is an important part of that. So start small. Show up on time. Do what you say you are going to do. Set a goal and hit it. Make a plan and complete it. Share a dream and accomplish it. Cast a vision and reach it.

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Jay Hanson, Lead Pastor, and Anne Bosarge, Director of Discipleship, serve at The Chapel in Brunswick. They love sharing about the ways God is moving in their church. Contact them at and for more information.


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