Home Small Group Leaders Leading Small Group Leaders Trust: How to Build It (or Tear It Down) in Your Group

Trust: How to Build It (or Tear It Down) in Your Group

Trust Builders:

1. Risk taking:

The woman at the well (John 4) is a good example. Both Jesus and the woman took risks beyond convention and comfort but without inappropriate engagement. Move toward others in relationship. Do not be afraid to state an alternative point of view. A humble comment like, “I may be wrong, but I wonder if we considered X instead of Y…” says you really care about the relationship or the team.

Challenging a group to move beyond pseudo-community may simply require one person — often the leader — to risk being vulnerable, caring, responsive, truthful, alert, aware or just present with others. When you step out — gracefully — into the chaos or the complacency of a team or group, you communicate that mutual engagement is essential for becoming a fully functioning unit.

2. Truth Telling:

(Eph 4:30). Speaking the truth that we see or understand is a little risky, too. But it is a huge trust-builder with people who really want progress. (Those who do not will view you as the enemy — get out of there before they kick you out — do not waste your time with those who consistently reject the truth on a group or team).

How you deliver the truth matters. Like package delivery. You can do “late night delivery” to your spouse just as they are nodding off: “Hey, by the way, I really did not like what you said today..” That is always hard to respond to. Timing matters.

You can wait (“delayed receipt required”) — and usually we wait too long — to finally address an issue. By then there has been emotional damage, too much distance, lost trust, and probably fuzzy recall of the facts. Likely the window of time for a meaningful conversation has already shut. We wait hoping “it” will go away, but it has gotten worse.

Or we can really let it rip with an “Explosive: Handle w/Care” delivery. Like a surface to air missile we deliver the truth with so much anger and emotion we simply demolish the other person, and the relationship as well.

So…deliver truth with tact, skill, steady emotions, and humility. Relationships are always marked: “FRAGILE– HANDLE WITH CARE.”

3. Grace Giving:

Jesus was described as full of grace and truth (John 1:14). My friends Henry Cloud and John Townsend have been teaching the GRACE + TRUTH + TIME equation for years for exactly this reason. Truth requires grace over time — especially when trust is at stake. Expect to work at this, not get quick results after one conversation. Groups and teams require time to allow grace and truth to be absorbed. Lot’s of give and take; lot’s of compromise and debate.

These three practices will help your group or team function optimally and help you guide them well. They really will.

Trust me.

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billdonahue@churchleaders.com'
Bill served at the Willow Creek Church & Association where he developed leadership strategies and training events for over 2500 volunteer leaders. In addition, Bill launched and led the Group Life initiative, creating tools and resources for leaders in 13,000 churches on six continents, representing over 95 denominations in over 30 countries.