It was the middle of the summer and our family was staying on the Chowan River. The river home designated to encourage and provide rest for ministry leaders was ours for a few days and included a jet ski. The River was about 2 miles wide behind the home and my oldest son was excited about the Jet Ski. In fact, he had already burned through all the gas and now it was time to purchase some more. Now the owner of the jet ski had requested high test gas. This request meant a trip back into town. So, after about a twenty minute drive paralleling the river, we arrived in the small historical town of Edenton, NC. I pulled up to the pumps noticing that it would not take my card, so I would have to go inside. As I approached the counter I was trying to figure out how I would explain my situation. I wanted to purchase the gas without driving further to the ATM. I listed a couple of items that she could hold, as security, while I pumped my gas. Or she could charge my card for the 10 gallons of gas; but I wanted to fill each gas can with as much as possible. She looked at me and said it was no problem, I could pump my gas and then come back in and pay. I was dumbfounded, I am from a large metro area where gas stations post cameras and signs on each pump threatening drive offs. Where I am from you would never see her reaction. I asked if she was sure, she said, “yes, I trust you.” I was impressed with the trust she gave me and created a response in me to make sure that I reward her faith in me. Her trust, made a strong impression on me.
This situation made me think, do I give trust to those I lead? Allowing people to feel a leader’s trust is one of the most powerful tools in a leader’s toolbox. Many times I have encountered leaders who try to play it safe, keep it close to the vest and do not take the risk of trusting others.
A couple of quick observations if we cannot trust those we serve or work with:
• We may have the wrong people on the team;
• We are motivated by fear and what could happen;
• We are trying to safeguard against a previous problem or
hurt, even though there are different parties involved now.
I know personally, this is a strong temptation while leading others to set up safeguards and not take risk with others. This is especially true when leading volunteers, I have seen community and ministry leaders and I regrettable have been enticed to not pass trust to others. The problem is our actions communicate to everyone that we do not trust them. This lack of trust breeds throughout the organization, and damages our leadership and our ability to accomplish objectives or allowing others to reach their potential. The lady behind counter in a small community showed she trusted me, and hers is a good example to follow. For a good leader, Leadership is a matter of trust.
For further thought:
Do you trust those that you lead? How do you communicate that trust? If there has been a breach in trust, what action can you take to repair it?