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(Thursday 02/21/08) Woman of Excellence Part 3- Trustworthiness

Part 3 - Trustworthiness
Proverbs 31:10-31

General Definition
Trust -- confidence or belief in.

I see trust as a painting or sculpture -- it takes so much time to develop and care for but so little to mar or destroy. Those willing to nurture trust, however, find tremendous strength, freedom, and satisfaction within themselves and their relationships with others.

Key Verses:
Proverbs 31:11,12

I am sure we would all agree that trust is not a characteristic solely reserved for marital relationships. We desire trust between parents and children, mutual friendships, in the workplace, in public office, and from others in authority over us. Therefore, as we look at these verses, let's draw principles that apply to ALL our relationships.

What specifically do these two verses say about our Proverbs 31 Woman?
*Those in her sphere of influence had complete confidence in her -- not half the time, or most of the time, but ALL the time.
*They knew that everything she did was to build up, preserve and protect -- not tear down or break apart.

One Key Truth:
*Be Consistent

If I am looking for an anchor (something to give me stability and security), I want to know that ...
-- it will always be there - right where I put it
-- it will respond the same way - every time
-- it is solid and strong - that it won't bend or break when the storms get rough
-- it is compatible with my needs - no matter what the situation

Do you see how this corresponds to relationships? People need to know that I will be right where I said I would be, that I will respond to them and their needs without criticism, that I will be strong for them when they aren't or can't, that I will fit into their lives appropriately without adverse reactions or interference. Let's face it, we all like to know what to expect -- no surprises, please!

How to Build/Restore Trust:
To be trustworthy, one must commit to and consistently practice positive action behaviors. Remember, trust takes time to build, but it takes very little to damage or destroy. Let's look at some of these positive behaviors:

1) Set and abide by healthy limits for yourself and your relationships.
The best place to start in this process is in the Bible. God has already lovingly given us standards to live by -- both to protect and nurture. Once the Holy Spirit has illumined my heart and mind with God's truth, there may be adjustments I must make in my current mode of daily operations. It is good to openly discuss these issues with significant others because it gives me clarity personally and a basis of understanding within other relationships.

When I know what guidelines will govern my life, I will experience an inner peace. My confidence will increase because I am no longer compromising my beliefs with each new person or situation. Others will sense a new freedom as well because they will know what to expect as they relate to me.

2) Be honest.
Honesty is still the best policy. This means I must accept responsibility for my OWN actions and attitudes and set aside the excuses or habits which hinder me from doing so. My speech should be "whole truths" tempered with genuine kindness, gentleness, and love.

3) Abstain from activities or situations that foster suspicion.
We are warned to "abstain from all appearance of evil" (1 Thessalonians 5:22). To abstain means that we voluntarily choose to refrain from or do without something. If my desire is to protect the testimony of God in my life, to be the light shining in the darkness, and build trust, then I must critically evaluate how things may appear to others. If my activities foster suspicion or doubts, then it would be best for me to exercise my freedom in Christ and abstain or change the way I do those things.

4) Follow through.
It is so easy to set a desired goal and then get side-tracked "chasing rabbits." This may be fun, but it becomes a problem when significant others are relying on me to follow through with what I said I would do or be where I said I would be. Limiting and prioritizing activities may help me develop the habit of following through.

5) Burn bridges to the past.
The past may contain unresolved events, people, promises, activities, thoughts, or emotions which have been carefully tucked away somewhere in our memories. Then when current circumstances become difficult, we tend to escape back to them. The danger is that these unresolved issues hinder us from committing 100% to the present and those in it. With truth from God's Word, His presence, and a godly friend or counselor, we can forsake these unresolved issues forever.

6) Be accountable to someone.
This means I am asking a godly person to hold me responsible for my actions and attitudes. It's kind of like an insurance policy -- they are aware of my goals, my strengths, and my weaknesses and are willing to come alongside offering instruction, encouragement, and confrontation to keep me on a progressive course forward.

7) Be appropriately transparent.
It is important to get to the place where we feel free to share openly about our life -- past, present, and future. The danger, however, is sharing everything with everyone everywhere causing misunderstanding, confusion, and sometimes misuse of the information shared. As we become vulnerable with others, our transparency must be carefully tempered with discretion.

Enemies that rob our trust/trustworthiness:
Depending on the situation, it may take only one incorrect action to destroy or many to weaken this character trait. Some of these incorrect actions may include the following:

*Complacency. It is so easy to become too familiar, too satisfied within relationships that we begin to take them for granted. We become lax in our communication and expressions of love and concern. We stop taking the initiative to help and encourage creatively. Like the little frog that boiled to death because he didn't notice the water getting hotter, we realize too late that we have been lulled to sleep by the enemy called "complacency".
*Manipulation. Webster defines this word as "to control or play upon by unfair or insidious means, especially to one's own advantage or to serve one's own purpose". When our motive is to control or pressure others into what we think is right, we are not fostering an environment of comfort and encouragement.
*Criticism. There is not an enemy more vicious than a critical tongue. Razor sharp words inflict painfully deep wounds that destroy the inner spirit or trust of another. "Oh, be careful little tongue what you say."
*Sharing confidences. Proverbs 11:13 says "A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret." This is a sensitive area which is often confused by the word "helpful". At times we may be tempted to share things under the guise of "prayer requests" or "she really needs your help". To avoid becoming a gossip who reveals secrets, it is wise to conceal a matter.

Am I willing to pay the price?

Being trustworthy is a process that demands hard work on a consistent basis. But the rewards are worth the effort. On a scale of 1 to 5 (one being the lowest and 5 being the highest), how would you honestly rate yourself with the following statements:

*I have established and exercise healthy boundaries.
*I am assuming responsibility for my own actions and attitudes.
*I am honest.
*I avoid activities/situations that foster suspicion.
*I follow through in all I say and do.
*I have burned bridges to my past.
*I have someone to whom I am accountable.
*I am appropriately transparent with those around me.

If you have scored low on these statements, please don't be discouraged. These are areas in which God can conform you into His likeness. If you scored high, rejoice -- but be careful that you don't become complacent and set yourself up for a fall.

Closing Thought to Ponder:
Many a man proclaims his own loyalty, but who can find a trustworthy man? (Proverbs 20:6) or "Actions speak louder than words"

1 comment:

Twisting his arm said...

This is a great study and I especially learned so much today. I really need to cement the "guidelines [that] will govern my life".