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How Do We Trust People?

I received this email today. Because I feel that trusting others can be an almost universal problem for us, I decided to feature it and my response in lieu of an article this week.

 “Ken, I have discovered |I have a TERRIBLE trust problem.
I sincerely & truly trust Jesus - my problem is that He is the ONLY one I trust. How would you recommend I work through this?”

 Years ago I heard someone say, "I love God, it's His kids I can't stand!" I can relate. I remember a friend of my parents who was a man I dearly liked but his son was a holy terror. If he came to visit and brought his son, I tried to hide in my room. I've often felt that way towards Christians. Especially in the ministry, I can't tell you how many times people I had even led to the Lord turned on me. I believe every pastor can relate.

 The friend who wrote me certainly has good reasons for having trust issues. The painful betrayal of frequent adulteries, the emotional neglect of  parents, the disappointments with churches and Christians you believed in -- all these things would make it miraculous if she didn't have trust issues!

 For me, I have found it most helpful first to realize that I have unwittingly been untrustworthy -- I have let people down. Once I see that I have disappointed people, it helps me find grace for those who have betrayed me. And grace is the point of departure for most spiritual growth. Once I have compassion for those who have hurt me I can see more clearly how to respond and not react when I am faced with a situation that requires trust.

 Secondly, I hearken back to Jeremiah 17:7. One translation says, "Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord and whose trust the Lord is." When I can't trust, Jesus can, and He lives within me. No one was ever betrayed as badly as He was -- by religious people, his family who thought he was nuts, and even His friends and disciples. I still prove myself to be untrustworthy in my commitments to Him more often than I like to think about. You could even say He had good reason to believe the Father betrayed Him. Jesus overcame each incident of betrayal, forgave even those who crucified Him, and never wavered in His trust in the Father.

 John 2:24-25 says Jesus knew what was in the heart of every man, yet He gave Himself to no man. This is a model for how we should "trust and verify," to use Ronald Reagan's phrase. We need to trust people every day of our life, yet we need to be realistic and understand that sometimes they will let us down. With His help, we must avoid becoming embittered. I can pray Jesus, be my trust, and He will. A big part of our riches in Christ are that we can tap his character when ours fails. His strength, in many areas, is perfected in our weakness.

 I keep a paper near my desk that says this:

Remember the five simple rules to be happy:

1. Free your heart from hatred.

2. Free your mind from worries.

3. Live simply.

4. Give more.

5. Expect less.

 My expectations often set me up to be hurt. If I can stop expecting people to do as I would do, I can be free to love them warts and all, and in that I can be free to risk trusting without being hurt.


Ken Unger is President of and founder of, where you can learn more about him and his transformative ministry. click here ,
 "Ken's new book, The Ultimate Breakthrough, goes beyond self help to self healing. You can preview it at  The Ultimate Breakthrough "


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