It wasn’t that long ago a small group leader in our ministry called me to talk about a big mistake he had made. It involved a group of guys, Buffalo wings and a little restaurant called … Hooters. The next few hours after that phone call were critical—we were fortunate it was an experienced volunteer who followed these three steps to re-establish trust with the parents of the kids involved. Here’s what we did:
Own it without excuses
There is nothing like just owning a mistake you made; honesty and openness are essential for rebuilding trust. The last thing you would want to do is to minimize what happened and pretend it isn’t a big deal. It is a big deal, and it needs an owner. You committed the foul, so take your lumps.
Apologize for what you’ve done and start over
So you’ve been honest about what happened; now it is time to apologize for it and admit you were wrong. This isn’t going to be easy, but it is a sign of humility, repentance and your humanity. I always tell my leaders, don’t try to appear perfect because it doesn’t set a realistic example for your students to follow.
Earn the trust back one good decision at a time
It might take some time, but work hard not to repeat the same bad decision and play it safe. You are a leader, and it is time to get back to leading again. A great way to communicate your good-faith effort is to invite a co-leader into your group or on events with you. Another great trust-building exercise is to give detailed plans of your intentions at least a week in advance. This will give parents an opportunity to address concerns and peace of mind your plans are sound.
Keep in mind: The longer you’ve served and the more deposits you’ve made into the longevity bank, the more you will be trusted despite a few setbacks.