…and trustworthy means more than “I will keep your secrets and not tell people.” It means more than “I will do what I say I will do.”
It means…well…worthy of trust. If someone trusts me, I want to treat them well.
Socialization is always a two-way process. You teach people how to treat you (without even knowing it!), and people teach you how to treat them. So, to put it simply, in order to be the type of person that people trust, you must reward them for trusting you. This is the opposite of punishing them for trusting you.
So here are some guidelines that I have learned from watching people.
1. Be wise and careful making corrections.
As a taekwondo instructor, I once saw a diagram of four types of students, and how they should be treated. With searching (The internet changed the world, did it not?), I found that this is referred to as “Situational Leadership Theory”. Check this out…
If the student has low motivation and low competence: Direct them
If the student has low motivation and high competence: Support them (Be less task-oriented and more relationship-oriented)
If the student has high motivation and low competence: Teach them
If the student has high motivation and high competence: Delegate to them
I bring up this example not necessarily to apply it but to illustrate an attempt as wisdom in an approach. As a taekwondo instructor, if a high motivation/low competence student makes a mistake, and I punish/discipline them for that mistake, I am an idiot…that decision is a) totally unnecessary because, since they are high motivation, simply telling them would fix the technique and b) will kill their motivation. However, if a kid who is pretty good at taekwondo, pretty competent, is slacking off, I need to approach it differently, do I not?
So before we make any rash decisions about what to do if someone chooses to trust us, we need to evaluate the scenario with wisdom. Will telling him to stop accomplish anything? How difficult was it to confess it in the first place? Is he looking for accountability? Does he need a kick-my-butt friend, or does he need a shoulder? Maybe he needs some Scripture. Maybe he needs encouragement.
As a taekwondo instructor, I have often encouraged a student who really, what they needed was a butt-kicking. However, more often I have seen people directed and bossed around when really, what they needed was a double-dose of encouragement.
2. Step back and actually put yourself in their shoes.
Paul, a 16 year old, just admitted to his parents that he has been having sex with his girlfriend. Paul is a Christian, as are his parents. So, put yourself in Paul’s shoes for a second. You will probably find…
a) Admitting that to his PARENTS must’ve taken an immeasurable amount of courage.
b) Since he admitted it, he probably already knows that it is wrong.
c) Since he admitted it, he has taken an important action towards breaking free of this addiction.
d) He probably feels trapped. He has probably tried to stop, but has fallen back into the temptation.
e) There is probably a tension between him and his girlfriend, considering that they both have a secret. He will need all the emotional support he can get.
(In the above example, feel free to replace PARENTS with any word you want, like sister, brother, youth pastor, friend, teacher, whatever.)
Based on this, we can know that a) we don’t have to kick his butt, he is already kicking his own butt, and the Holy Spirit is probably working him over right now. Especially if he had the balls to tell you. b) we don’t need to tell him that it is wrong, or about the risks. He already knows.
What he needs is not for you to quote the “Flee from sexual immorality” verse but the “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!” verse. And he needs to know that you are behind him, that you are there for him no matter what.
3. To trust is a difficult decision. Compliment them for it.
“Thanks for trusting me. That sounds like something that’s difficult to admit.”
“You’re a strong person, going through that.”
Some people are in the habit of punishing people for trust. You can punish them in several different ways. Correcting them when they haven’t asked for advice or trusted you with that task (that type of correction feels incredibly invasive), getting mad at them (whether it’s for something they admitted to doing wrong, or they just trusted you with their political position), or even just failure to listen.
Because remember: Getting mad at somebody or getting “offended” makes no correction in their behavior whatsoever. You didn’t correct their behavior, you “corrected” their honesty, their trust. You punished them for trusting you or for opening up to you, so they will probably make sure not to do that again.
Can you be the type of person who can survive this? Your wife tells you: “It FREAKING ANNOYS me when you leave the towel on the floor!” and you say “…thanks for telling me that.” It would take one heck of a man to do that. How about if your wife said it calmly? “Honey, it upsets me when you leave your towel on the floor.” Would you snap back at your wife? If you would, you are teaching her not to be honest with you.
Can you survive your girlfriend saying “Let’s just be friends” without complaining or playing the martyr? If so, you are a master at this.
In conversation, Fred says that “I don’t think abortion is wrong…some people shouldn’t be parents.” As a pro-lifer, do you get mad at him? If so, you don’t change his mind…you simply teach him that you are not somebody who he should have this conversation with.
Somebody at church says “I’m not really convinced that Jesus is the Son of God.” How do you handle it?
Can you reward trust, even in a tough scenario? Or do you punish trust?
I want to be the person who rewards it.