Trustworthiness is a the top of most parish members list when it comes the priest that serves their community. Although they may not say it in those exact words. When asked what are the most important gifts for your priest, the most frequent answers I hear are good preaching, pastoral care, and a sense of humor. Underneath those answers are the implied words of parishioner: I need to trust the person who will interpret the scriptures that guides my life; I need to trust the person who will pray with me when my son-in-law has cancer; I need to trust the person who will bury my mother; I need to trust the person who can genuinely laugh with our human condition without demeaning or making fun of someone.
Trustworthiness can be encouraged, built, and offered. Using the Managing Transitions process developed by William Bridges, here are some aspects of encouraging trustworthiness for any time in the relationships among clergy, lay leaders, and congregations.
Do what you say what you will do
If you can’t follow through on a promise, then let the person know
Listen to people carefully
Understand what matters to people
Share yourself honestly, people immediate sense inauthenticity
Ask for feedback. While the feedback maybe biased, there might be something within it to offer insight
Trust is mutual. It can’t be forced to quickly and others look to leaders to initially extend trust
Being trustworthy is not being a buddy
It might take time for some people to catch on that you are encouraging trustworthiness
Recall Mark Twain’s words, “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.”
Leadership relationships are rooted in trustworthiness. Transition towards any change begins with encouraging trustworthiness. Spiritual relationship is founded on the trustworthiness of God.