jonathan stone's blog

. . . posts on faith and life

relationships without trust have no future

Last night I asked my therapist just how important trust is in a relationship. She told me that it’s just about everything, that trust and respect were the two cornerstones of all healthy relationships. I was very appreciative of this insight (especially since she counsels me pro bono). And I found it very interesting in light of the fact that I continue to run into a sense of mistrust between various segments of the church. You can find it in many places, younger people often mistrust older people, older people often mistrust younger people, administrators often mistrust the administrator above them, and pastors often mistrust their peeps. Some of this (like generational gaps) is to be somewhat expected. However, it seems to me that we have an inordinate amount of mistrust in our organization, and that many people continue to respond in ways that fosters more mistrust. That’s why I thought Bill Isaac’s recent post about ordination and the underlying mistrust that it reveals to be very helpful. You should check it out.

It seems to me (IMHO) that this should be a top priority. I have seen some efforts in recent months, and those were very productive. But it will take much more in order to create an ethos of trust within our movement. In the meantime, I think that my therapist wonders if I am helping or hurting that trust-building cause with my audacious blog title, but hey, someone’s got to try something.

13 comments on “relationships without trust have no future

  1. Dennis J Adams
    March 13, 2008

    Jon, that is so true. I asked an administrator that is over us about help for Care ministry locally and nationally. He amply answered

    ‘…funding for care ministry is hard because there is so much suspicion about them.’

    I will be honest I have a difficult time trusting the Church of God leadership and ministers.

    No apology for the direct honesty either…

    I think you need a therapist, that one anyway. 🙂

  2. m.d. mcmullin
    March 13, 2008

    You are a blogging beast. Everyday you have a thought provoking post. I can’t handle it.

    It is very difficult to win back a trust that has been lost. I dare say it is impossible without God’s help.

  3. The Boyds
    March 13, 2008

    Great post Jon!

    Honestly, if we had more accountability in our system for our leaders it would engender trust because it would be harder to for people to misappropriate funds or blacklist a minister for unfounded reasons.

    For the most part, I trust military chaplains I work with and those over me in the military more because there is an extreme system of accountability in the military as well as extra laws (the Uniformed code of Military Justice). The person or chaplain in the military has a much harder time discriminating or acting unethical. It does happen but if caught there are legal ramifications that keep many in check.

    If I choose to indulge in gluttony and live at the buffets and do the bare minimum exercise I will be held accountable. I would be disciplined. First verbal council and an offer to help me be successful, then written discipline and if I did not correct that behavior eventually I would be shown the door.

    I am not saying that this is the answer for the COG but it is food for thought.

  4. Jonathan Stone
    March 14, 2008

    Dennis, I appreciate the honest answer. Unfortunately, some administrators are ‘suspicious’ of care ministries because membership numbers are, ummm, fluid when you pastor a church of transients. And monthly tithes numbers? Ha! You’ve earned the right to be a little bit suspicious.

    Mike, sweet! Thanks for the props. Did you see LOST tonight? Those tricky turds, mixing flashbacks in with flashforwards!

  5. Jonathan Stone
    March 14, 2008

    Matt, are you picking on my love of buffets and lack of exercise? 😉 The truth is, I would love that kind of accountability and support, and I’m scared to death of it at the same time–but my desire for it is slightly stronger than my terror of it.

    The protocol you mentioned sounds strikingly familiar (Matt. 18:15-17). I’m really glad you shared it! Perhaps it’s still not the CoG, as you said. But I’m wondering if you have any ideas about what move us in the right direction?

  6. The Boyds
    March 14, 2008


    I am an equal opportunity offender! I love buffets too! Since I am on Adkins/low carb + exercise I eat lots of protein when I go to Golden Corral.

    The problem with that level of accountability outside of legally mandating it like they do in the military is that the people providing it really have to care a lot and be willing to sacrifice to provide it.

    Here is an example; two weeks ago I was in Cleveland and I happened to be at the Seminary during chapel time. I decided to go hear Dr. Land preach. In the sermon he mentioned how many of the seminary students were not committed enough to even attend chapel. My thoughts are they should take the time to hold them accountable. It takes a lot of extra effort to hold people accountable and just like children we don’t feel loved if our parents don’t maintain healthy boundaries for us and follow through with what they say. If it is important enough to have a rule then it should be enforced.

    Love holds people accountable. It takes a lot of effort and sacrifice to be a real community of faith. Something else is always more importiant. We seem to always settle for less then what God desires for us.

    Behind your desire to be held accountable may be the question: “Is there anyone out there who loves me enough to hold me accountable…” Maybe it’s your therapist.

    But why not a spiritual Father?? Maybe they are still too busy doing important things.

    Enough offending for one night!

    God Bless!

  7. Jenn
    March 14, 2008

    I feel like a pipsqueak saying this, but I think trust without faith and discernment is an empty kind of trust. With that thought, I don’t understand how people who don’t believe in Jesus can drive on the roads, you know?

    Do you think there’s a balance (administratively) that we can achieve with trusting leaders, to be accountable, having faith in God to believe the promises He’s given us, and discernment to see people who are called to ministry versus those who just came to be “recognized”? I think I got off subject, but I’m still curious.

    And as far as the title, I think you have to challenge people. As much as I cringed the first time I read it (I did, J, sorry), I think it’s totally beneficial. I mean, I don’t want to be in the COG wing of the mansion in heaven. I mean, I have Baptist friends for Pete’s sake!

  8. m.d. mcmullin
    March 14, 2008

    Matt – some excellent points. I’m just sitting here letting them stew a bit. It is a lot of extra work to provide true mentoring – supervision – accountability – discipleship – whatever we want to call it. I am definitely guilty of backing away from a situation (read relationship) that I knew would require a lot more work than I was willing to put into it.

    I think those who are allowed to roam in our communities without boundaries might very well be unsuccessful because they feel unloved. This really fits with what I was reading in I John earlier this week. A community of love has boundaries.

    –concerning LOST– I am usually quick to pick up on their sneaky ways but last night I didn’t get until my wife told me. I thought that perhaps Jin had faked his death to save Sun and was secretly working for Ben or someone else and had remarried. So now we know 5 of the Oceanic 6.

  9. Jonathan Stone
    March 14, 2008

    Matt, I agree with Mike–great points. And I think that it really comes back to spiritual parenting. And spiritual parenting costs a lot. But it’s obviously important. The very first thing that Jesus says when He begins his long lesson on the coming of the Paraclete is, “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you” (John 14:18). And then of course Hebrews tells us that the type of discipline you are referring to comes from the father who is showing us His fatherly love and showing us that we are indeed His children (Heb. 12:5-11). Thanks for the insights!

  10. Jonathan Stone
    March 14, 2008

    Jenn, in light of the discussion I am taking the accountability here to the next level–so I have decided to remove you from the blogroll for having Baptist friends! Seriously, no pipsqueaks here! I’m glad that the title was provocative. I knew it would be. But I didn’t realize it would initially give as many people “the creeps” as it did. That’s pretty funny, but had I known it would be as freaky as it was I might have been a little more hesitant. I’m glad it worked out the way it did!

    As far as the balance you mentioned, I think you’re right on, and that that is what we should aim for. I also think that currently we’re in a state of a pervasive amount of “trust that has been broken.” And as Mike pointed out in his first comment, that is very difficult to repair–even impossible without the help of God. That makes me wonder what is the most important ingredient in repairing broken trust?

  11. Jonathan Stone
    March 14, 2008

    Mike, I’m going to skip right past the very helpful thoughts you added and go straight to LOST. That’s funny that you didn’t get it. I didn’t either. I had to call my therapist (she’s currently on a trip with the girls) and talk about it, and she helped me realize what had happened.

    Also, are you sure we only know 5 of the Oceanic Six? Last week’s preview said the last of the Oceanic Six would be revealed this week. At that point I had only counted 4. So, I tried to recount them and realized that I had not been counting the baby–Aaron. Does he count? I mean, he was on the flight (though still in the womb). If he counts then the six would be: Jack, Kate, Hurley, Aaron, Sayid, and Sun. What do you think?

  12. Louis Morgan
    March 15, 2008

    OK, please forgive me for entering this discussion late… and for mentioning the following scholarly study. However, when I read this study I immediately thought about it in the context of the church.

    Basically, the researchers found that businesses operating with an ethical climate (perceptions of using ethical standards that are reflective of the organization’s espoused practices, procedures, norms, and values– its mission) tended to see salespersons have a higher level of trust in supervisors. This higher level of trust increased the salespersons’ job satisfaction and organizational commitment. It also decreased salespersons’ turnover intention.

    It would seem to be a no-brainer that leaders can help develop follower trust by being honest, fair, and truthful. And, “unethical behaviors, even when they are legal, can damage a firm’s image and reputation, resulting in customer defections, lost employee morale, and employee turnover” (Mulki, Jaramillo, & Locander, 2006). Just because something is lawful, it may not be appropriate… seems like I’ve read that somewhere before. 😉

    This study seems so applicable within a denominational setting… when replacing customers with members and salespersons with ministers. So, if there is a lack of trust, then (again) it would seem to be a no-brainer that it may be because ministers and members perceive some leaders are violating a sacred ethic and acting in ways that are not congruent with biblical practices.

    I think this is where accountability is needed at all levels… and that is what it means to be a true community of faith. I also agree is must be motivated by love… not eager to tear down someone, but to step beside them and help build them up. If someone comes beside me and really seems to care for me, then it is much easier for me to trust them… and be happier, more content, and less likely to leave them.

    OK, this didn’t add anything new to this discussion… but I just think this is a valid study that also has implications for the study. I read it earlier this week, and this discussion reminded me of it.

  13. Jonathan Stone
    March 15, 2008

    Louis, you did add something new to the discussion by pointing out the study. And I agree that it is very applicable here! What is the best way for a person to familiarize him/herself with this study? Where can we find it?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


This entry was posted on March 13, 2008 by in general, sustainability.
%d bloggers like this: