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Dr. Henry Cloud: How Church Leaders Can Know If They Are Building Trust With Others

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Screenshot @Global Leadership Summit

“How many of you have ever been hurt in a relationship by somebody that you trusted?” asked psychologist and best-selling author Dr. Henry Cloud at the Global Leadership Summit 2023 the morning of Friday, Aug. 4. 

The answer, of course, is that we all have. The problem is that human beings cannot function in life without trusting others. 

“You are wired to trust,” said Cloud. “We do it naturally, like you breathe.” But we have all been wounded or betrayed by someone at some point. So how do we know if people are trustworthy? And how can we be trustworthy ourselves?

Dr. Henry Cloud: 5 Steps to Building Trust

Trust seems to be a theme of this year’s Global Leadership Summit. During his opening presentation Thursday morning, Life.Church founder and senior pastor Craig Groeschel discussed why trust is crucial for all leaders. 

Nowadays, people are less likely than ever before to trust leaders. In fact, said Groeschel, over half the population will not trust someone else until they see evidence for that person being trustworthy. That reality is a massive problem for all leaders because “if they don’t trust you,” said Groeschel, “they won’t follow you.”

Cloud has written a new book, titled “Trust: Knowing When to Give It, When to Withhold It, How to Earn It, and How to Fix It When It Gets Broken.” During his presentation, he gave five qualities that are essential for building trust, which together he referred to as a “map.” 

The first of these qualities is understanding. “We trust someone when we feel like they understand us,” said Cloud, using the example of going to see a surgeon about a knee replacement. He is not likely to agree to the surgery if the doctor does not take time to understand his problem and to empathize with him. 

When we have a disagreement with someone else, many of us focus on trying to persuade them of our point of view. But we must not try to persuade someone to do what we want. We have to start by listening to them, said Cloud, calling this truth a “neurological fact” that is even referred to in Scripture. Proverbs 18:13 says, “To answer before listening—that is folly and shame.”

“Listening is based in deep empathy,” Cloud said.