Trust During Transitions

Our leader is leaving.  Uh oh!  What now?  What’s going to happen here?

Transitions tend to be times of heightened anxiety.  We don’t know exactly what is going to happen.  Now, some people get an adrenaline rush thinking about such a scenario, others want to run away from that situation as fast as possible.  And, some simply see a transition as a season to “get through.”  No matter how you think about transitions, it is quite obvious that what will be helpful in a time of heightened anxiety is a healthy dose of trust.

Some of you are thinking, “No kidding!”  But how do we build trust?

I believe Patrick Lencioni is right on when he writes that the way to combat a lack of trust is to model vulnerability (see Lencioni’s The Five Dysfunctions of a Team).  I said I thought he was right, I didn’t say I necessarily like it.  Being vulnerable is often uncomfortable, but it is important.

Not surprisingly, Jesus leads the way in this.  When I think about Jesus modeling vulnerability, I think about Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.  Jesus prays, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will” (Matt. 26:39).  Have you ever wondered how we know that Jesus prays that prayer?  Jesus is all alone when He prays that prayer, so it must be that Jesus tells His disciples.  If I were Jesus (and obviously, I am not), I would be thinking that I can’t let anyone know I am struggling like this.  After all, think about some of the statements that Jesus has made: “For I have come down from heaven not to do my will, but the will of Him who sent me” (John 6:38).  “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many” (Matt. 20:28).  I would be thinking that I need to be strong, or at least appear strong.

But that is not how Jesus operates.  He shares His biggest struggles with His followers.  And doesn’t that inspire trust in Jesus?  I really do believe it when the writer to the Hebrews reminds us that Jesus has been tempted in every way we are.  I am more apt to approach the throne of grace with confidence because of the way Jesus lives His life (see Hebrews 4:14-16).

What does this look like for us?  How might we model being vulnerable?

I have found that one of the powerful questions I can ask in a time of transition (other times, too) is, “Of what are you afraid?”  And then I can model vulnerability by offering my answer first.  Before I expect other leaders to answer, I share some of the things that I fear.

For example, right now, I have a fear that you will not have read this far in this blog.  I’m afraid that you will be thinking, “It really isn’t worth reading what Lokers writes.”

So, if you have read this far, thank you!  I hope this will help us all take one step toward greater vulnerability which will help build trust.  And trust is always important, especially in times of transition.

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  • Scott DeVries`

    I read that far! And I’m glad I did.

    Thank you for this. I’ve been looking into the issue of building trust on and off over the years. It’s a subject that people talk around often, but seldom have I been able to find anyone willing to address the subject head on.

    I have a follow up question (not to cast any doubt on what you’ve said about vulnerability building trust – that’s so true!). Have you found a way to build trust with those who view vulnerability as weakness, and weakness as something not to be trusted? I’ve found that to be a small percentage of people, but especially problematic as a minister who believes that vulnerability is Christ-like.

  • Scott Lokers

    Good question, Scott (and thanks for reading that far!).

    It seems to me that as leaders, we need to decide if we really do believe that vulnerability inspires trust. If we really do believe that, then that is the answer to the question–the way to build trust with the people you refer to is to model vulnerability. Having said that, I don’t believe it is appropriate to reveal everything about us (especially to people we perceive may not be safe) or every thought we are having in every situation. I have been challenged to grow in my own authenticity and vulnerability by “going to the edge of my comfort zone, and then consider taking one more step toward vulnerability.” That kind of action does a number of things: 1) It challenges me to grow. 2) It often is helpful to give the Holy Spirit access to break through the barriers others have set up, i.e. those who view vulnerability as weakness. 3) It is one step toward creating a safer environment where others can be authentic and vulnerable.

    I believe all of the above is true, AND, there is no guarantee that some of what we reveal about ourselves will not be used against us. That is some of the risk of leadership and some of what it means to follow Jesus.

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