Everything rises and falls on leadership, and leadership is built on trust. Trust is the currency of leadership. Trust is equally vital in every type of organization — government, nonprofits, religious institutions, and families.
Yet, the world is currently overcome with distrust. According to research from Edelman – a global public relations firm who has been researching societal trust for 22 consecutive years – we have reached a new global low in distrust, and this widespread distrust is driven by the media and governments around the world. “Distrust is now society’s default emotion. Nearly 6 in 10 say their default tendency is to distrust something until they see evidence it is trustworthy. Another 64% say it’s now to a point where people are incapable of having constructive and civil debates about issues they disagree on. When distrust is the default – we lack the ability to debate or collaborate.” - Richard Eldeman, CEO of Eldeman
The Edelman Barometer of Trust tracks global and U.S businesses, media, governments, and nonprofits (link to report below). Elderman tracks the perception of trust based on two major categories: competence and integrity.
Edelman’s current report shows that the government ranks the lowest in competence (-41) and ethics (-12), with media also negative in both categories but slightly better in competence (-18) and ethical (-2). Business ranked the highest in competence (+12) and higher than government and media in ethical perception (+14). Nonprofits ranked the highest ethics (+24) and were also in positive numbers for competence (+3).
Perhaps the most surprising finding in the research is the rising trends of how much more communist governments are trusted than democratic governments. 91% of people who live in China trust their government, while only 39% in the U.S. trust their government. While there are multiple factors that could cause biased results in a communist government – such as, state owned media and fear of saying something negative – there is no escaping the reversal in trust for the U.S. This gap has grown by 16 percentage points from 2021 to 2022.
This lack of trust is clearly not about freedom. This lack of trust seems driven much more by leaders overtly seeking their own advantages and agendas rather than working with others to serve the people they have been given to lead.
God’s word from the book of James describes this problem like this:
"Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice." - James 3:13-16
When people in government care more about beating a political opponent than seeking the common good for their constituents, they have lost their way. When they care more about their own ambition than they do solving problems for those they serve, not only does trust decline, but so does the society as a whole.
The degradation in behavior and in trust of fellow humans all starts by not individuals and organizations not recognizing God as God, and that everything we have is a gift from God for the purposes of God. “For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools.” Romans 1:21-22
Take your Bible and read the rest of Romans chapter 1 (Romans 24-32) and you will see further societal causes and effects of seeking selfish ambition and not recognizing God. Compare that text to one of the most known scripture texts, "The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing" - Psalm 23:1
Jesus — One To Fully Trust
How can we stop seeking our own selfish ambition and build our lives, families, organizations, cities, and nations in a way that others can trust?
The only ultimate answer is to follow Jesus and lead like Jesus. Jesus is the most trusted leader in the history of the world. Historians estimate that 5+ billion people throughout history have placed their trust in Jesus.
Let’s look closely at why people trust Jesus using the same way components Edelman does. At The Center, we explain The Trust Equation similarly using integrity and competence over risk as the components that make up trust.
Trust equals integrity, multiplied by competence, divided by risk. This is the way that each one of us evaluates a leader, a company, or an organization as we interact with them.
Jesus said that everyone who believes in Him will have eternal life (John 3:5) and He said, “I am the way and the truth and the life.” - John 14:6
Jesus is talking about trusting Him with everything — your eternal destiny and all of your life on earth. Jesus raises trust to a level of all encompassing faith and He delivers every single time we place our trust in Him.
Jesus = Integrity
Jesus defines integrity. Unlike the leaders we struggle to trust today, Jesus lays His life on the line. Integrity is having high moral character and the ability to demonstrate with your life what you say you believe — when your actions match your words. Jesus did not just say He was the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He gave His life as the exchange for what we lacked in integrity and morality.
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” - John 10:11
We can trust leaders when they know they are in it to serve others, not for themselves. Simon Sinek wrote a book titled, Leaders Eat Last to share how real leaders behave. Leaders put aside personal preference, personal agenda, and even their own safety.
You can not find a place in the Bible where Jesus mentions something that is for His own preference or comfort. He was sent to shepherd His people by His Father and He was completely obedient to the role, humbling himself to the point of death on a cross (Philippians 2:6-8).
Jesus = Competence
Jesus defines competence. Jesus is the most successful leader in history and is the model for every leadership attribute needed in every sector in every part of the world. Jesus is the fulfillment of 300+ prophecies. He is the maker of the earth and the creator of everything that has been created (Colossians 1:15-19).
“Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep." - John 10:7
"My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all ; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand. I and the Father are one.” - John 10:27-30
To prove His competence, Jesus walked the earth for 33 years and spent the last 3 years in public ministry taking care of the deepest needs of people. The Bible chronicles over 37 miracles starting with turning water into wine and culminating in rising from the dead and ascending into heaven. No one has ever demonstrated more competence.
Jesus Over Every Risk
What is the highest risk the world faces? What is the highest risk you face as an individual? The solution Jesus offers covers every scenario — nuclear world war, a catastrophic pandemic, economic collapse, stolen possessions, damaged reputation, imprisonment, bankruptcy, life ending illness, and even death.
“Do you now believe?...I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” - John 16:31; 33
Trust Jesus — Grow In Trustworthiness
Jesus tells His followers to do the very things He does. When we put our trust and faith in Jesus we can start to do the very things He did as a human.
“Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” - John 14:12
How can we possibly do greater things? Jesus' method for love to the world are His followers. And, we are now His representatives who are called to put aside jealousy and selfish ambition to serve our neighbors. We are now the hands and feet of Christ Jesus. As we can put aside our personal agenda to serve our families, companies, communities, countries and the world, it is nothing shy of a miracle.