By Jimmie Sheffield

Assistant to the Executive Team, Arkansas Baptist State Convention

[Perspective] Building trust: an ongoing process

By Jimmie Sheffield

Assistant to the Executive Team, Arkansas Baptist State Convention

Building trust means that you must be trustworthy. Being trustworthy means being worthy of confidence. This implies that you must build trust. Of all the qualities that make for a good organization, trust may be at the top of the list. If you are not trustworthy, things will deteriorate very rapidly. 

Trust is not a given. Your followers will not automatically give you their trust. You must earn it, and you must know that you can lose trust in a moment. That is why building trust is an ongoing process. You have to exhibit certain leadership qualities constantly and continually. The process never ends. 

I would like to share four things you might consider for building trust. Over my sixty-seven years of ministry, I had to learn these things the hard way. Hopefully, you will be a much faster learner than I was. 

First, I would suggest that you do your job well. People will recognize your competency in your job whether you realize it or not. If they see you doing your job well over the years, they will invariably begin to trust you more. In order to exhibit that you are doing your job well, I would suggest the following: 

  • Be prepared. Whether you are preparing to preach, lead a committee meeting, or to teach a Bible study, make sure you prepare adequately. One of the greatest compliments I ever received from a church member came when she said, “I never knew you not to be prepared.”  She was talking about my teaching and preaching. 
  • Be knowledgeable. Know your subject. If you are not familiar with the subject, study, read, and get prepared. Your members will recognize quickly that you know or don’t know what you are talking about. 

Also, you may be dealing with something that involves church policies and procedures. Make sure you know what these are. In addition, be familiar with the church’s constitution and bylaws.  

  • Be thorough. Cover the subject carefully. Point out the weaknesses, the strengths, the barriers to success, etc.  

My second suggestion for building trust is do what you say you’re going to do. If you say that you are going to send additional material, be sure to do it. If you say, “I will give you a call in a few days,” be sure to make that call. If you say that you will pray about the situation, add that to your prayer list. 

The third suggestion is to build relationships. Perhaps, this may be the most important thing you can do to build trust. In order to build good relationships, consider the following suggestions. 

  • Be truthful. Don’t try to spin the truth. Really be truthful. Don’t exaggerate, and of course, don’t lie.  
  • Be open about yourself. Don’t try to cover up your weaknesses. Share your honest feelings. Be vulnerable. That is risky, but I believe it helps in building trust. 
  • Be helpful. When you are building relationships, you may often need to make yourself available to help the person(s) with whom you are trying to build a relationship. 

My last suggestion for building trust is found in three words: Communicate! Communicate! Communicate! If you think you have done a good job of communicating, most of the time you have not. Effective communication means that the people with whom you are communicating understand the message you are trying to communicate the way you intended the message to be understood. Real communication is hard work! 

Please understand that there are other things to consider when you think of building trust. Perhaps these few suggestions will help you in your ministry. If so, to God be the glory! 

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One Response

  1. Great suggestions, Jimmie. We have seen you live them all! Yep! The level of trust you enjoy and have enjoyed over the years revolves around how you have done as you have advised others.


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