Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Challenge of Trust

Reading MA research papers this week, one of my students working with a minority population of Tibetan Buddhist in his city discusses the challenges of trust. His observation is that one of the problems is that people just don’t know one another and, quite frankly, don’t take the time to get acquainted. Though the Tibetan’s have lived in the community for decades and are involved in commerce and marginal public activities, no one has really reached out and tried to get to know them well. As his scale of trust indicates, no one can really value another a person until they go beyond just knowing them.

Working with Tibetan’s, this student must make a conscious effort to learn as much about them as a people as he can to establish a relationship with them individually and collectively. He should not build a rapport with them with an agenda to “evangelize,” but truly learn to like them as people before presenting the Gospel. If he is successful in cultivating a relationship with the Tibetan’s, in the process of building that trust he may one day be able to enter into the dialogue of faith. In every context of association the prior question of trust, as my professor, Dr. Marvin Mayers use to say, must be paramount.

Recently a pastor of a supporting church has been writing to ask about our ministry. Though the church has been a part of our ministry for over 20 years, he is new and therefore is questioning what we do and its value in church planting. I’ve written about donor attrition before on this blogsite and outlined the dynamics of new leadership and the precarious nature of faith based missions. My student’s scale of trust is a good reminder that until someone really knows you they will never like you enough to partner with you. When a person or church has confidence in your ministry then, and only then, will they value and trust the ministry you are involved in.

Whether one is talking about ministry, business or even marriage, nothing positive happens until we value the other person. If a husband and wife don’t like each other they will never value their spouse. Value translates into trust. Trust does not happen overnight or quickly. Sometimes it takes years of getting to know one another before a foundation of confidence is accepted. Moral of the story -- be a friend first and from that relationship one can move up the ladder of value and trust.

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