Trust—having confidence in someone or something—is a simple concept, yet it plays a foundational role in the success of our relationships and organizations. Extending trust allows one to get things done and focus attention and effort elsewhere, thereby accomplishing more in the same amount of time.

How can we benefit from exercising trust?

Believe that stinging statements are made out of ignorance or for one’s good.

It is wise to choose one’s words carefully. Words can leave scars that last a lifetime. But sometimes difficult messages need shared and hurt no matter how tactfully they are delivered.  How one responds from the receiving end of difficult words makes all the difference.  

Choose to think the best of people. If something was said that hurt, assume it was said out of ignorance, or with no intent to hurt you. Alternatively, accept cutting words as a wise rebuke that was intended for your good. Consider the courage it took for the messenger to risk offending you and harming his relationship with you to say something intended for your betterment. That deserves a gracious heart-felt thank you instead of a cold shoulder and a broken relationship.  Imagine the difference it would make in your relationships if you responded this way as a matter of practice. Consider the improved you that would emerge.  

Think about some of the rebukes we read about in the Bible. The recipients had a choice. They could choose to be offended and fight back or they could accept the harsh words as for their good and make the changes needed. God gave Nathan a tough message for David. Nathan presented it tactfully. David responded humbly and God restored him.

Believe decisions made are the best decisions possible.

Decisions must be made to keep an organization functioning effectively and not all of them can be made by consensus. This means there will always be someone who would have done it differently, who has a different opinion on the matter. But revisiting every decision stifles progress.

Extend trust to the individual(s) who made the decision. Choose to trust (1) that their motive is to make the best decision possible for the organization, (2) that they did their due diligence given the timeframe allowed for the decision, (3) that they considered all the relevant information available, and (4) that there might be something they know that you don’t know, and that this is a key factor in the decision rendered. Doing this will keep the focus of time and energy on the things that matter instead of revisiting the past.

In Acts, the disciples were faced with the challenge of ministering to the spiritual and social needs of the people. They realized they couldn’t do everything effectively. A decision needed made so that everything would get done effectively. The disciples delegated the work of addressing social needs to a group of select men so that they could focus on addressing the spiritual well-being of the people. Imagine how different the story would have been had this decision been perpetually second-guessed. But, their decision was accepted. The work was executed. And the ministry of the church moved ahead.

Believe that you can be completely transparent with others.

Have you ever heard someone say, “Allow me to be completely honest with you?” Don’t we always expect complete honesty from our fellow Christians? So, what are they really trying to say? They are telling you that they are about to make themselves vulnerable. In their effort to be transparent and honest, they are about to expose themselves to you in a way that puts them at risk. They risk being misunderstood, making known something about them that may affect your opinion of them, or being maligned because of the information they are about to share. But they are trusting that you will handle the information with wisdom and care. Wouldn’t we get where we need to be much quicker if we were able to habitually engage in unguarded conversation, to cut to the chase, to say exactly what we know or think without endless qualifications?

Have you ever seen boxers in a ring or wrestlers on a mat?  They seemingly spend lots of time circling each other, protecting themselves, sizing up their opponent, looking for an opening, waiting for him to expose a weakness on which to capitalize.  Unfortunately, that also describes many important conversations. We talk in circles carefully protecting ourselves and our interests. We listen intently for a clue to what the other person really thinks or wants.  We’re constantly trying to read between the lines, to connect the dots. Wouldn’t our conversations be much more effective if we candidly shared what we think and why? It would, but that requires a high level of trust. 

Trust is a simple concept that can have a profound impact. Time, energy, and effort is liberated from wasteful exercises for application to positive, constructive, beneficial activities. It can transform you and your relationships.