Tag Archives: trust

Growing the trust factor

Yesterday, I began my recent writing on small groups and transformational community with the  foundational element of the Trust Factor. Much of what I am learning currently is emerging through weekly facilitating Spiritual Integration Classes at myc yoga, here in Bend, OR, and through some extremely good reading (Parker J. Palmer – A Hidden Wholeness).

I closed out the last post urging us, as leaders and inviters into community, to begin to pay attention to the Trust Factor. As we begin paying attention and rejoicing at every hurdle of trust that others in our community climb over, we are well on our way to facilitating groups and building community that support transformation authenticity. Hand in hand with paying attention is our ability to invite others into space that nurtures the Trust Factor. There are a few things that I seek to remember at all times (but often forget) when it comes to holding space for trust:

  • Any movement towards more trust is worthy of celebration and support. If someone feels supported, chances are they are not going to move in the direction of less trust.
  • At the same time, causing damage to someone’s willingness to trust is like two (or ten) steps backwards after one step forward. People who have repeatedly taken the risk of trusting and been hurt, are in need of great care. There are many, many things that kill trust.
  • Eye contact and smiles help immensely
  • I try to envision what it would look like for me to embrace the other without actually giving them hug. My eyes, my smile, my posture, my tone of voice… all of my being is here to embrace and welcome you!
  • Envision an open space of comfort and love expanding between the two of you. Breath the other into that space, deeply and calmly. I must NOT fill it with my “self” and my needs.
  • In regards to breath… our breath, as clear and free and deep as it can be, and our posture, as relaxed and open and strong as it can be, invite others into that space with us. This is not something we learn at school. Crossing arms, slouching, looking out the window (the clock, our phone, etc), breathing shallowly, wearing sunglasses… all these things do not help.
  • As hard as it is, we must avoid “leading questions…” those being questions that seek to make a point or get someone to consider something we think would be “more appropriate” for them to consider.
  • We must be able to be alone ourselves. As Henri Nouwen writes in Reaching Out, “As long as we are lonely, we cannot be hospitable because as lonely people we cannot create free space. Our own need to still our inner cravings of loneliness makes us cling to others instead of creating space for them.” Spending time in solitude and silence allow us to truly be an safe host, without an agenda to carry out or needs that we demand the other to meet.

There are a lot more things… I think that the best place to start is considering myself in their shoes. We can open others in trust with our own bodies. Breath, posture, eye contact. This is absolutely essential to consider. Oh yah, and SLOW DOWN. Silence pauses are ok! We must be okay with the open space between us… not filling it with our insecurities.


Death to trust

Here are a few things I have found that kill trust:

  • Any thinking (even if it is never said) that we know better how someone might think or act.
  • Any comments or thoughts of “should” or “shouldn’t”, more or less “appropriate,” “right way” or “wrong way” to do something, etc.
  • Fixing
  • Judging
  • Correcting
  • Interruptions
  • Text messaging or taking a call while the other is talking
  • Turning the conversation to a focus on me rather than the other. This is very easy to do with stories.
  • Comparing pain, busyness, challenging times, etc. stories. We are not in community to “one up” each other with who has the harder life.
  • “Leading” questions. Is it about our agenda or theirs? Who needs who here?
  • Needing the other person to be a certain way
  • Not saying out loud what your body is telling them loud and clear
  • Trying to cover up what is really going on inside us.

The Trust Factor

My first of many writings on small group life, growth, and spirituality must foundationally be about trust. I hear so often people reflecting on the challenges that come from people committing or not committing, sharing or not sharing, being open or closed, honest and vulnerable or distant and removed. Foundationally, it comes down to trust… and those of us who are seeking to lead or connect people into community absolutely must pay attention to what I’ll call “The Trust Factor.”

Trusting is one of the most difficult things for many, many people to do. It seems, too often, that those of us who trust readily simply assume that everyone else is going to, or “should,” trust as much as we do. Not likely! Every movement towards “the other” in relationship involves trust. At a very basic level, eye contact even involves trust. At the most significant level, giving of ourselves sacrificially to share our souls and serve involves trust… and of course is the final act of replacing our need to trust in humans with a trust of the Divine. Everything in the middle, from talking to physical contact, to speaking up in a group, to sharing our stories (good and even painful), to showing emotion, to committing time and resources, to being present and available… all of these involve trust on many different levels.

We, as leaders, must pay attention to, affirm, and celebrate all positive movements in the Trust Factor. It’s pretty easy to figure out where someone is with how much trust they will give. The natural movement of conversation is entirely based on it. Eye contact, small talk, greeting (hug or handshake?), life stuff, struggles, commitment for further conversation, etc. We test the waters of trust without even knowing it. The extent that we become aware of where someone is, determines how able we are to meet them where they are and invite them into deeper levels.

Celebrate, celebrate, celebrate all displays of trust. Remember that most people DO NOT trust readily. Even a hug versus a handshake is an enormous step for some people. Even a two-armed hug versus a one-armed hug is something to rejoice over. Let us, as leaders and inviters into community, begin to pay attention to the Trust Factor. Only then, will we be able to invite and welcome others into spaces where the Trust Factor may build in strength. More on that to come…

Becoming the invitation… defining success

When our success is marked by quantitative measures, we are bound for unfulfillment… for it seems to measure our success by the number of people who show up, the amount of profit we produce versus the amount we spend, or the number of products sold, we are going to get stuck… stuck trying to get more. Nothing is ever enough.

BUT… to realign our focus to something less tangible… to make the point about the invitation, not an invitation that is a quantitative product, but one that is of ourselves. This changes the way we see the world. To BE the invitation, always open, always calling others to something more, always reading to accept and listen, is to see success around every corner.

To BE the invitation is to see ultimate and lifelong success in one receiving, in one opening in trust. And trust… trust is given in a confiding. Trust is given in receiving of a gift. Trust is given in a phone call. It takes trust to make ANY move towards some sort of relationship… or a deepening into more relationship. So not only is one showing of trust enough to make life successful, but one showing of trust is never all that we experience. By no means!! To live as an invitation is to see trust giving happen everywhere! And it does… its inevitable. Granted some will not respond, but most, most cannot refuse… even to a small extent.

Success… trusting… it is my hope and my dream… my vision… to witness the growth into this of many, many women and men. This is where it starts. It is the beginning of a glimpse into the kingdom of God. This is transformation…

Grasping for trust

This Monday morning finds me frayed. I want so desperately to be on top of my game and able to say that I am doing something worthwhile, moving in the right direction, being a success… and all of this things are fleeting. I have no firm grasp on the “state of things” and “my place in this world.” All I have confidence in is that I am where God wants me to be and that it is my deepest desire to be true to living and leading like Jesus. This is all I have.
And so I am grasping for trust. I want to trust that God will use me in a big way. No, not big in terms of numbers or size, but merely a significant way. I make some sort of difference… but I don’t know where to begin. All I know is to do what I can with what is placed in front of me. This is difficult for me now.

Fleeting… fleeting..