Through some personal experiences I am beginning to realize a generational and cultural difference in the area of trust as it pertains to me and those I encounter in my community. I think I have known about it, but now through these experiences I am beginning to know it.
As a child I grew up in a time when adults, police, parents, pastors, government leaders, teachers and others in positions of authority simply were trusted. This was how the world worked from my point of view and from my experiences. I took this belief into my teenage years and applied it to friends, teachers, coaches, youth pastors, friend's parents and employers.
Naturally I found that some friends couldn't be trusted, some teachers changed the rules, employers just wanted you to work for the least amount of money, coaches said what they needed to to get you to perform, but I could still count of my youth pastor and my close friend's parents to be trusted.
So what was it that they had?
They had integrity. They listened and they were genuine in there interactions with me.
So as a young adult I met a few people who had these qualities. One, I married and others I shared my life with.
As I began my life in ministry I knew that I wanted to bring these three qualities into all areas of ministry to young people and their parents.
If I said I would do something then I would do it. If I failed to do it I made sure I sought out forgiveness. I made sure I was always present and listening to students. I communicated that I genuinely loved and cared for them and that there was a God who loved and cared for them even more than me.
Another thing I did was to give trust away, meaning that I was always willing to trust someone first. Of course there have been times when this has bitten me in the butt, been hurt to the core and have retreated to protect myself from being hurt again. This is a natural reaction.
I believe this reaction is now a permanent part of todays culture.
It looks to me that people have more distrust in adults, police, government and leaders, teachers, companies, coaches, parents, churches and pastors than ever before.
I recently read an article titled, “Building Trust between Pastor and Congregation” (Article Link). The sub-heading was “What can be done about the fact that in many churches a pastoral crisis occurs about every 18 months?” The writer shared a few pastoral situations that made ministry within the church difficult, times when he bumped heads with the leadership, times when he, in my words, was sabotaged, times when he was personally attacked or felt unsupported.
With almost 19 years of experience working in the church I wasn’t really surprised by the writers examples. What was shocking was when the article was written, Spring 1980, over 25 years ago.
Has distrust grown or am I becoming more aware of this reality because I am older. As I have spoken with young adults and youth they say that it is both. Distrust has grown within many of our social and work communities and that this is the new reality.