by Benjamin Tse
All these years, I’ve heard the saying “Trust is earned, not given”, but have never realized such a simple saying could be so wrong.
“Trust is given, not earned.”
It was my first month of ministry in a brand new context. I was still figuring out the names of all the youth, and the youth were still figuring out who I am. Over lunch, I thought I would ask a simple question: “Who’s ready to help build this community?”
Was it because I was eating with my mouth open? Or chewing too loudly? Was it because the youth weren’t ready? Was it because this concept was way over their heads?
No, it was because we’re all working on giving trust. After reading the Student Leadership Movement book, I wanted to adapt the material right away, but I failed to realize that I needed trust to create a movement. The book is a valuable resource to any pastor or leader wanting to make an impact in the lives of students, it’s worth your time to read!
Trust as a Pastor: If a pastor thinks of trust as being earned, there’s a score that is kept, but no one knows how to win. There is no room for grace and growth. Are you going to do everything correctly as a pastor? What happens in times you fall short? In both the good times and challenging times, it’s the trust the leaders, parents and students have in you that keep the movement going. When you are given trust, you become a catalyst for change.
Trust the ministry leaders: Ministry leaders (and student leaders!) are the foundation of any movement. Give trust to those who will take the ministry far and will walk with you every step of the way. Give trust to those who spend their valuable time investing in others, and who give sacrificially. Give trust to those who are growing in their relationship with Christ, and whose character is above reproach. Give them freedom in a ministry context. When you give them trust, they become a catalyst for change.
Trust the parents: Parents are the ones driving their kids to youth group and events. Parents are the ones who spend the most time with their kids. It is neither the youth leader, nor the pastor, who will have the most impact on students. In most cases, it’s the parents. Trusting parents, regardless of their parenting style, is probably the most challenging area in youth ministry, yet trust that by the power of the Holy Spirit, they are raising their kids to the best of their ability. There will be times for training and correction, but also encourage them because being a parent is hard! When you give them trust, and they are on board with what’s happening, they too, become a catalyst for change.
Trust the students: When it comes to trusting your students, it’s not about telling them what to do and how to do it. It’s about teaching them to make good decisions and guiding the principles of different actions. “Students are best equipped to reach students,” and trusting students with big responsibilities (within reason) creates a movement. Trusting that God is working in the heart of students means they are changing the world around them to be more like Christ. Trust your students because they are the most important catalyst for change.
Here are some questions to help you gauge the trust in your community:
- Where are the stress points in the relationships between Pastors, parents and students?
- Have you created a positive feedback loop to hear the hearts of your stakeholders?
- Are there issues that have been shovelled under the carpet that need to be addressed?
- What is the level of forgiveness after a conflict?
Be encouraged, you are on the right track!