“You take care of it Paul. I trust you completely.” I assume that the customer in front of me thought he really meant what he was saying, but those are dangerous words. Three different people today said almost the exact words to me, as I did business with them. I want to be proud.
In truth, I am worried. The trust of a person is a burden which one must bear carefully. The complete trust of that same person can be a great danger to both the trustee and the trusting. I would direct your memory to Jim Jones and the so-called “People’s Temple” from the last century. Absolute trust in a human being will lead to disappointment every time, and in some cases, as then, absolute disaster. Again and again, trust in men who have demonstrated outwardly that they were trustworthy has been proven to be misplaced, regardless of the evidence which inspired the trust. Trust is a heavy burden.
What to do? I have worked for many years to build a good business reputation, as well as a personal one. What I desire intensely is that people see me as honorable and responsible. I do, in fact, want them to trust me completely. Why then, do I balk at being trusted?
I think the problem is that I know who and what I am, deep down. I am aware of my capabilities, and they are not all honorable, I assure you. Frequent readers of this column will know that I have stated my desire to be a follower of Jesus, but contrary to popular belief, that desire does not result in instant transformation, at least not of my human traits. God’s grace does result in immediate reconciliation with Him, but the rest ensues only as we follow His Son. And, like many of my fellow humans, I’m not as good in that pursuit as it might seem.
The question remains unanswered then. What to do? The burden is too much for me. I know that, sooner or later, I will take advantage of someone who has placed their trust in me or I will fail them miserably. Perhaps I will just forget that they need me to serve. My mind isn’t what it once was. I forget why I go into the next room sometimes. I might just lose sight of the request which has been made. I have done it before. Oh, this trust thing is just too much! Why don’t they just go find someone else to pin their hopes on?
Perhaps, I have stated my case too strongly. I don’t want you to believe that I hope people will stop putting faith in me. I would be devastated to learn that the word on the street is that Paul can’t be trusted. I have, as I said, spent years in the pursuit of that trust, heavy burden or not. What I am getting at is this–the suggestion that trust is often a two-way street. The late U.S. President, Ronald Reagan, put it this way when he spoke of being partners with other nations: “Trust, but verify.” Of course, he meant that he didn’t trust the Soviet leader, Mr. Gorbachev, further than he could toss him, but the idea is valid nonetheless. We trust others, but we help them to be trustworthy.
Isn’t that the way it is supposed to be for us anyway? The apostle, after whom I was named, suggested that we were to bear each other’s burdens. Understanding that other cares may have been in mind, the ideal for our corporate life is still that we assist each other to become the people we ought to be. When we see that our friends are in trouble, we help by reminding, by suggesting, by actually aiding them physically.
I have spoken before of our Creator’s understanding that it was not good for us to be alone. Perhaps, as much as anything else, He knew that we would have need of assistance to be honorable, to do the right thing, to follow through on our promises. The Lovely Lady is that assistant for me constantly. Although the word has been met with vitriolic disrespect over this current era, she is indeed, a helpmeet, helping me to meet my obligations and aiding me in remaining trustworthy. I ask you. How is that, in any way, insignificant? You want to know the truth? I do the same thing for her. It is not a demeaning position for me or for her.
We need each other. Not just our spouses, but our friends, our neighbors, and sometimes even the strangers who keep us honest by pushing us to it. When we are left to our own devices, to face the challenge for ourselves, we often start to believe the flattery. As people say the words, one of the worst things that can happen is if we accept that we, indeed, are trustworthy. When we start to give credence to the hype, we are set up for a colossal failure. Just like that foolish man who built his house on shifting sand, our fall will be great when the temptations and the distractions beat against our shaky structure. We need reality…in large doses. We get that from people who know us and aren’t afraid to correct and keep us on the straight path. It’s what friends do for friends.
Of course, it also means that you, my friends, are responsible for me. Oh, I know that ultimately, every person will answer for his or her own actions, but today we bear the onus together as we walk side by side. I sort of like the arrangement.
As it turns out, I’m the one trusting you…completely. You won’t disappoint, will you?
“For if any man reputes himself to be something, being nothing, he deceives himself.”
“There is no better way to thank God for your sight, than by giving a helping hand to someone in the dark.”
(Helen Keller~American author/educator~1880-1968)
© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2013. All Rights Reserved.