Posts Tagged ‘trust’

Heeding the Signs

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Oh, there are signs. We see them. We know what they say, what they mean. We even know they’re right and helpful. But do we heed them?

There has been some road construction on the highway that goes by our house. I drove through it a number of days ago.

There were signs up that warned of “Loose Gravel.” And indeed, when I drove through the construction on the first day, I had to drive very slowly on account of said loose gravel.

On the second day of construction, I got in my car to drive into town. As I was driving down the driveway toward the road, I noticed one of those “Loose Gravel” signs. I recalled how loose the gravel had been the day before.

I drove right up to the road and paused in my driveway to wait for a break in traffic.

Once I finally had my chance, I did as I’m used to doing and I pounced on the accelerator. You see, our driveway is not level with the roadway; we have a steep climb right at the end of our driveway to get up onto the road. I have to really give it the gas to get up and out.

But only, this time, when I gunned it, my tires didn’t grip right…because they had gotten caught up on some…loose gravel.

And I thought, gee, I sure wish someone would’ve warned me about that gravel being all loose like that. And all at once I remembered the construction and I looked up and noticed that “Loose Gravel” sign once again.

Oh, someone had warned me. But I forgot. I knew there was loose gravel. I had even seen that sign just minutes before my tires spun out.

The same type of thing happens in my spiritual life more often than I’d like to admit.

Just today something a friend wrote reminded me of a lesson that the Lord has been trying to impart to me repeatedly over the last several months. And every time I get these kinds of reminders about that particular lesson, I say, “Yes, Lord. I remember you telling me that before.”

I know the lesson pretty well on one level. I get what the Lord is trying to tell me. I know it is right and it is for my own good.

I hear the reminders and I know they’re true.

But then? Then, I forget.

All at once I forget and I revert back to my old ways, to what I’m used to doing instead of heeding the Lord’s message to me.

The old ways are so ingrained and it’s hard not to do it those ways. I mean, like putting the pedal to the metal to get out of my driveway, I do what I’ve always done in my life as well. I do what has worked for me in the past even when God has showed me clear signs to do it a new way.

I know I’m not perfect at heeding the signs Lord, but I thank you for providing them so generously. I do see them; I need your strength to obey.

Receiving Others as Gifts: Working Together

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One of the ways that we are gifts to one another is when we team up to do something that we could not do alone. Sometimes we directly serve one another as I wrote about in the post about mutuality, but many times we serve alongside one another to accomplish a larger purpose.

Our collaborative “work” may be in the home, at church, in a volunteer organization, or for paid employment. Wherever we are, when we work together, we are not only gifts to one another but we are gifts to the people and organizations we serve.

In this continuation of my series on Receiving Others as Gifts, I am suggesting four conditions that facilitate working together: empowerment, trust, accountability, and communication. In what follows, I’ll say more about each one.

 

1. Empowerment

Working together is at its best when each person is empowered to operate in his or her unique strengths. Part of the joy of working in teams is that different people can specialize in different facets of the work as each is gifted.

Okay, of course, most jobs require us to operate in some or our less-strong areas to get the job done. For example, I don’t love making phone calls, but sometimes I have to.

Still, when individuals can, for the most part specialize, everyone is genuinely engaged and invested because each gets to do what each loves doing. This benefits the project, organization or cause because it maximizes the time, energy, and expertise of the people involved.

 

2. Trust

Working relationships require a basic level of trust. It’s best to assume people are trustworthy in their roles and tasks unless they prove you otherwise. When trust is present, we can each move forward in our unique roles trusting that others will do the same.

Greater levels of trust can be earned when people fulfill their roles well and demonstrate faithfulness and commitment to the project or organization. Over time, as more trust is earned, the working relationship can strengthen.

When we trust others, it means not worrying whether they’ll do what they said. It also means not micromanaging what they do. These behaviors ultimately only weaken the organization and erode trust over time.

 

3. Accountability

An empowered and high trust work environment also needs high accountability. Remaining open to questions and receiving feedback graciously helps keep the work on track.

Of course, arbitrary and negative criticism is destructive and not what true accountability is about. Accountability, rather, can be thought of as check-points to support one another.

True accountability reaffirms the goals and values of the work at hand in a positive way. It then helps people reflect on how they are doing with their parts in the work.

 

4. Communication

Last, but not least, strong communication is essential for collaboration to be at its fullest. Keeping one another up-to-date about challenges and changes ensures that everyone is tackling the right job at the right time and with the right information.

When problems do arise, clearly and graciously naming the problem and talking together about solutions is the best policy. Pretending a problem isn’t there and not discussing is hurtful to the organization.

It is important to communicate affirmation in a working relationship as well as communicate about difficulties. Offering sincere and specific encouragement to one another contributes to a positive atmosphere in the organization.

 

Through empowering others to use their unique strengths, trusting one another to follow through, remaining accountable to each other and communicating openly, we can establish a strong working situation. We can then receive one another as gifts as we collaborate, working together with joy.

 

Read all the posts in the Receiving Others as Gifts series:

What Happens When We Don’t Trust Each Other?

Surveillance

I tend to have a rather nuanced view of the human condition, people aren’t all bad and they’re not all good either. Still, I think a basic level of trust is helpful to get along in our world.

I think we need to trust people to make their own decisions about how they live their lives as long as they’re not hurting others. With that, I wrote up a list of nine reasons I think distrust and suspicion create more problems than they solve.

Click the title below to see the whole list at Life & Liberty:

9 Troubling Ways Distrust and Suspicion Ruin Society

3 Different Challenges and the Types of Responses Needed

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When you’re facing a challenge and are ready to talk about it with a trusted friend, it can help to be clear about the kind of challenge you’re facing. Identifying the type of challenge can also help you be clear about the kind of help you’d like.

A classic dilemma in my life has been when I’m dealing with a disappointment and what I really need is just a listening ear. But if I’m not careful, all of a sudden I will get unsolicited advice from a well-intentioned friend who is in problem-solving mode.

I’ve identified at least three different major categories of challenges that we may face and the types of responses that are most likely to be helpful for each. I will deal with each of these in more detail in future posts, but briefly these are:

  1. Situations beyond our control: This can include anything from a major crisis (like the loss of a loved one) to an everyday emotional blow (like getting overlooked for something we really wanted to do). When things happen that we cannot control, oftentimes our emotions are high. Because we may not even know what all we’re feeling or why we’re feeling it, it is not a time for decisions. When we share about these types of situations, we most need someone who will engage with us in active listening mode.
  2. Sin issues: Unfortunately, sin is real and we’re all guilty of it more often than we like to admit. But sins that we hide have a way of compounding, increasing temptation and causing even more harm. When something we have done or something we have failed to do is holding us captive, we can always talk directly with God about it in prayer. Still, talking about it with a fellow Christian can help us unburden our hearts and minds. When we need to share in this way, it is most helpful to have someone who is willing to fully hear our confession and remind us of God’s love and grace.
  3. Practical dilemmas:If a challenge doesn’t fit the other two types above, it may be something for which advice is appropriate. Sometimes the challenges that we face in life are “nuts and bolts” issues that we cannot seem to resolve on our own. Sometimes we’re too close to a project or task and we need a second opinion. When we share these kinds of concerns what we most need is a friend with experience or expertise in that area who can enter problem-solving mode with us.

The more aware we are of the kind of challenge we’re facing, the better we can get the kind of help we need when we share. Hopefully these descriptions can help you direct how and with whom you share about particular challenges.

If you enjoyed this post, you may also like these other posts about “How Christian Community Helps us Face Challenges.” (Please click the titles below to go to the posts.)

4 Simple Reasons Talking About Hard Stuff Can Enhance Your Life

Essential Traits of a Trustworthy Friend
What an Active Listener Does & Doesn’t Do

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Essential Traits of a Trustworthy Friend

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Having someone to talk to about the challenges you face is a great benefit. Ensuring that your confidant is trustworthy helps you get the most benefit from sharing.

My last post was about the reasons why sharing about challenges is helpful. I hinted at the importance of trust in that post.

I know that in my life when I don’t feel like I can trust someone it is much harder for me to share about difficult things. Or if I do end up sharing with someone untrustworthy, I often end up regretting it because of the “insult” they add to my “injury.”

Because of the vital role that trust plays in our sharing, I want to suggest some traits to look for in a trustworthy friend. People who are worth placing your trust in…

  1. Keep a confidence. There is nothing worse than sharing about something difficult only to have it blabbed to others. Those in the habit of oversharing about others’ secrets are not good candidates for sharing. If you’re not sure if someone can  keep a confidence you can start by sharing a small matter and see if they keep it between the two of you. If the person handles that appropriately you could work your way up to sharing about bigger concerns.
  2. Respect you. These people take you “warts and all.” They’re not trying to change you or place impossible demands on you. They get that life in Christ is always, always a work-in-progress and they care enough to walk side-by-side with you as you progress through yours.
  3. Follow up. Sometimes I have shared hard things and the person I shared with never mentions it or seems to have forgotten I shared it. It matters to me when friends remember details and ask loving follow-up questions about things I’ve shared with them. Their follow-through demonstrates their care for me.
  4. Keep it cool. Whereas appropriate and loving follow-up is helpful, bringing up a challenge to shame you is not. Folks who use your foibles against you are not good candidates for a trusting friendship. Look for people who encourage you forward rather than berate you for where you’ve been.
  5. Share with you. Quite often the best, most trusting friendships for me are the ones where both parties share about challenges they face. When this is lopsided, it can create a sense that the less-open party is superior to the one more likely to share. While my struggles may not be the same as my friends’ struggles, I know they have them too. I feel better about sharing mine when they share theirs. This mutuality is a real gift.

These are a few of the traits that I look for in a trustworthy friend. I hope this list helps you as you consider who you can trust.

If you enjoyed this post, you may also like these other posts about “How Christian Community Helps us Face Challenges.” (Please click the titles below to go to the posts.)

4 Simple Reasons Talking About Hard Stuff Can Enhance Your Life

3 Different Challenges and the Types of Responses Needed
What an Active Listener Does & Doesn’t Do