the shape of leadership

A Matter of Trust

Building and shaping culture, Part 2

Chris Railey on May 18, 2018


In Part 1, last week, we started looking into how and why we need to build and shape culture. It’s the atmosphere that surrounds your church and empowers your vision. Without the right culture, you may never be able to set the right expectations or create the right environment for growth and change. But a healthy culture propels your vision.

Today, I want to talk about one component of culture that leaders must develop well in advance of building culture. That one component is trust. Cultivating trust with volunteers and staff makes it possible to go further, faster in developing culture.

This is also true beyond the church world. Think of the Navy SEALs, for instance. Throughout their training, they must learn to trust one another because their lives will ultimately depend on their fellow team members. Therefore, the test to join one of these elite teams is extremely tough. Those who make it are committed to something bigger than themselves.

Setting aside personal ambition in favor of commitment to the cause helps establish trust. We are all committed to something or someone in life. Our first commitment is to Jesus. But we are also committed to the vision He has given us. Developing trust within our team means a commitment to that which is bigger than us.

The Complexity of Trust

Building and shaping culture is difficult. That’s because there are so many moving parts. You must deal with personalities, expectations, preferences and abilities. In a complex environment, trust is essential.

Here are the things to look for on your team. You will know you can trust your fellow team members and they can trust you when these things are present.

1. People trust you to go the first mile. A lot of your staff will want to impress you by going the second mile. They will do the little bit extra that attracts praise. But sometimes they’re not willing to go the first mile. Outside of those things that seem so significant are the regular activities they need to do, like responding to emails on time, showing up ready to go, or completing basic assignments. These things may not be exciting or publicly visible, but they are so important.

A bad attitude is the quickest way to lose influence.

2. People trust you to get the job done. We’ve all had team members we assigned a project and never heard from them again. After a while, we began to wonder what happened to the project we delegated. Trust means that once I give an assignment to a team member and agree on a deadline, I know they will get it done. It’s out of my hands and off my mind.

3. People trust you to set the right tone. We can either guard our hearts or guard our circumstances. Proverbs 4:23 says that all of life flows from the heart. But we can cling too tightly to our circumstances. I can’t always control what others do or the outcome, but I can control my heart. If you’re a team member or leader, you can set the right tone by focusing on what’s within your control; this will increase the trust on the whole team.

4. People trust you to have the right attitude. A bad attitude is the quickest way to lose influence. But a good attitude is the best way to stay in the room. You may not have the best skill set or connections, but if you keep a great attitude, you will build trust and stay on the team. The longer you are on that team, the better equipped you will become.

5. People trust you to have your house in order. Are you leading your family well? Are you doing what you can to stay healthy? Are you in control of your finances? As we build culture, these are some areas of leadership that become essential to moving from tension to resolution. We may not talk about them a lot, but they are on everybody’s radar.

6. People trust you with the vision. You have to ask yourself whether you are a barrier or a bridge. Are you a manager or an owner? This is especially crucial if you are a team member. If you are not the senior pastor, it’s easy to say the vision is his or hers — not yours. But when you move from a manager mindset to an owner position, you realize the vision is ours, not theirs. We all have a stake in it. Taking responsibility for the vision increases trust.

Building and shaping culture is about moving from tension to resolution. Last week, we talked about the five stages of growth every culture goes through. The first few are pretty easy to navigate, but it’s the third and fourth stages that are vitally important. If you build trust early on, you will be better prepared to respond to tensions and create resolution.

The more complex a ministry becomes, the more trust grows in importance. The more you delegate crucial tasks, the more you need to trust people will complete these tasks.

What is the one trust area on your team you need to address? Don’t wait until you have already started building your culture. Address those issues now, before they have a chance to sabotage the work.


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