The Fragility of Trust

The Fragility of Trust

Trust takes a long time to build. And it can be lost in a moment. The fragility of trust is amazing.

Sitting in the airport not long ago, I couldn’t help overhearing one side of a phone conversation. A tall, good-looking man, about 30, was on his cell-phone – sobbing. He seemed oblivious to the crowd around him, and made no effort to keep others from hearing his conversation. He was obviously speaking with the lady in his life, pleading with her to “work things out.” The pain in his voice and his shameless tears almost made those of us nearby uncomfortable: we were witnessing a young man in real torment.

Trying to piece things together, this young man was apparently in the middle of a business trip. In the past he had done something to break trust with his wife, perhaps an affair, or drinking too much. While on this trip something had happened to re-open that old wound – perhaps he had not “checked in” at the expected time. She was angry. He was hurt. Each was accusing the other. It was tragic, and incredibly painful.

Once lost, it takes much so much more time and effort to rebuild trust than it does to develop it in the first place.

You know those MasterCard commercials that end in, “Priceless!” Trust is one of those things that’s truly Priceless when you have it. And no amount of money can buy trust once it’s lost. Trust is THE ingredient in all these areas:

  • Spending or using money. Handling the family checkbook, employee petty cash, company expense account, business financial transactions.
  • Your word. What you say to family members, spouse, work associates, church associates, others.
  • Position of authority. The integrity or lack thereof seen in your position as a parent, teacher, pastor, or other leader.
  • Addiction. Whether substance abuse or behavior addiction, the trust you gain through long-term recovery is lost in a moment of relapse.
  • Marriage faithfulness. Emotional as well as physical intimacy with another party, faithfulness of the heart.

I don’t know the outcome of the phone conversation I overheard in the airport. After several long minutes the young man walked away still talking on the phone. I hope and pray he and his wife are working to rebuild the trust that was broken.

If you’re one who has done something to damage the trust other(s) had in you, be willing to do whatever it takes over the long haul to rebuild it.

And if you know you’re at risk for breaking that trust, do whatever it takes to stop. Get some help. Ask an accountability partner to keep you in check. Get on your knees.

Nothing is not worth the kind of torment that young man in the airport was experiencing.

Your turn: Have you lost someone’s trust? What can you do to rebuild it? I’d love to hear from you!


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