We’ve all probably went through those seasons where someone we assumed we could trust let us down which revealed trust wasn’t properly established. Hesitancy to ever trust again easily emerges from situations like this, and it can even impact how we trust God as we go through the things we are going through. I don’t believe we should resist trusting God or people just because of past experiences, but we must become more wise in how we establish that trust…
Here’s the thing with trust. You’ve probably heard it said before that trust must be earned, and once it’s broken, it’s hard to get back. For the most part, I agree with this, but I think we can prevent some trust breakdowns if we are more careful and wise in how we come to trust in the first place.
The Bible challenges us to trust God (Psalm 37:3-5 is one example). Flowing from our trust in Him, we find the ability to build relationships with others and develop a healthy level of trust. Some of us will more quickly develop trust with others, but regardless of your relational connectivity speed, we should let certain characteristics/qualities drive the trust building process. Below I’m going to use an acronym for “trust” that will help us better understand why God already deserves our trust and how we can better discern when trust has been established with someone else.
With God… Thankfully, God has not made us robots who are meant to blindly trust Him. He wants a relationship with us in which we are trusting Him in every way. Because of that, God is gracious and gives us time to discover how He works in various circumstances. As time passes, we learn more about Him through His Word, our own experiences, and the stories of others. Time eventually proves to us that God is worthy of our trust!
With Others… Trust cannot be built without time. There’s not a set amount of time at when you should be able to say you trust someone, but without a doubt, trust takes time. How much time can be influenced by the following four thoughts and how quickly they occur within the scope of time, but we can’t really trust someone until time has passed.
With God… He is completely responsive to who we are as people. Jesus, living as He did, is completely able to relate to the things we are going through (Hebrews 4:15). God is not some disconnected dictator who is only concerned with large-scale matters. Instead, He is very dialed into our needs and even knows what we need before we ask it (Matthew 6:8).
With Others… Some people go through life on autopilot seemingly moving from one task/responsibility to the next with very little sensitivity to what’s actually happening around them. Some people look trustworthy because they are accomplishing many things, but relational trust and productivity trust are two different things. Yes, we need people we can trust to do things the right way and on time; these people are highly responsive to stuff and tasks. However, even more than that, we need people we can trust to be there relationally in the moment… People who will respond with sensitivity. You will have a hard time establishing trust with someone until you can discern whether someone has a relational or productivity responsiveness. Few people can provide both, but some can, so just be wise and discern properly.
With God... Many things are obviously unique about God, but I believe what sets Him apart from everyone and everything is that He has no creator. He is the Creator! Everything else has come from Him even life itself. Because I believe this is truly unique about God, I am able to trust Him regardless of what I’m facing, needing, worrying about, etc knowing nothing is too much for Him to handle because He is before ALL things!
With Others… We all have certain qualities that can be shared from person to person, but to truly trust someone will require you to know something unique about them. Just to clarify though, I’m not talking about a unique food they eat or a place they’ve been, but instead, you will need to discover something unique in their story that has lead to an unusual amount of pain or joy. It’s not so much that it really even matters “what” is so unique about them, but when you can identify something that’s significantly unique about who they are and their life-story you are reaching a point where you truly know them. Discovering this “uniqueness” is really more about getting to know someone than it is about finding a unique trait. It’s at this level of knowing someone where real trust can be built.
With God… Jesus came seeking to serve, not be served. The humbleness and selflessness of Jesus was on full display as He died for us on the cross even though He knew many He would die for would eventually reject Him. God didn’t not have to serve us, but He chose to do so because it would teach us about His heart for us.
With Others… You cannot trust someone who has not shown any signs of serving you. Now, with this being said, it’s not that we should walk around entitled and expecting others to jump at every opportunity to serve us. However, if someone is worthy of truly being trusted, then a willingness to serve and put others first will be naturally noticeable. The danger in trusting someone who never or rarely serves others is that you will only be able to trust them to the point they are the focal point. Trust will then quickly be broken when things aren’t going the way they want.
With God… Grace and Mercy. Undeserved Favor. Forgiveness. These are all gifts God gives to us that we don’t deserve. His plan was perfect, and His design was flawless. We were made to worship Him and enjoy all that He would provide us, yet in our freedom our selfishness emerged, and we decided we didn’t need God. Still, He chased us down, demonstrated His love toward us, and patiently draws us back to Himself. His patience toward us shows He has a very calm temperament and gives us room to fail, stumble, and learn from our mistakes. He deserves better from us, but He loves us and adopts us as His own.
With Others... People will fail in every relationship. Notice I didn’t say every relationship will fail, but in every relationship people will fail people. Until there’s adversity, failure, or something unexpected, until you are able to see their temperament, it will be hard to fully trust that person. You can learn a lot about someone’s temperament as you watch how they flesh out the previous characteristics, but seeing their temperament in action will give you a better idea of how much you should trust them (Proverbs 22:24). Until then, proceed forward, but don’t trust too much too fast.
In closing, I’m going to flip the script from talking about trusting God and others… I want to challenge you to put yourself through this filter of trust… Are you worthy of trust? Apply these characteristics to yourself and see if you are someone others can trust. We can too easily blame trust issues on other people, but remember, it always takes two people to make a relationship work, so the other person may actually be trying to figure out if they can trust you as well!