Healthy Trust

From Rev. Eric Carswell, Head Pastor
July 9, 2018

One of the well-known and loved passages about marriage is that one of its states includes the idea of “complete trust.” For nearly all of us living in this world this can be an inspiring goal to aspire to and it is a tricky one to live in this world when one’s spouse is still distinctly a spiritual-work-in-process. This is true of so many aspects of life.

One example relates to whether the people I work with and serve “trust” me in my role as head pastor. I would feel distinctly insecure if I got the impression that they might notice what I had in mind on some issue, think it seemed a little or a lot off base, but they didn’t say anything because they are sure I know what I’m doing. Although I try to think broadly, there are times that my focus is shortsighted and sometimes it only takes a small observation for me to realize I’ve neglected to include something important in my perspective. I don’t think of those observations as reflecting a lack of trust.

It is questionably wise to have complete trust in any leader. A study of history indicates that even great leaders can make poor decisions–or at least ones that looking with hindsight were poor decisions. For example, we’ve just passed another anniversary of the crucial battle of Gettysburg from the American Civil war. In the final day of that battle, General Lee of the Confederacy decided to have a large element of his forces charge the Union line that was sheltered behind a defensive stone wall. A commander under General Lee, Lt. Gen. James Longstreet, strongly counseled against this charge. He recommended withdrawing to a strong defensive position between the Union Army and Washington, DC. From our perspective, it is fortunate that General Lee made one of his few huge errors in judgment at this point.

Any finite human individual will inevitably have faults and flaws in thinking and sometimes in motivation. Groups of people can often make more reliable decisions, but even here, any group of people, particularly one that is composed of a limited demographic can be flawed. In the teachings for the New Church, there are a number of observations about how church councils in the past have developed and supported tragically false doctrines. One passage carries that statement: “My friend, do not put your trust in any council. Put your trust in the Lord’s Word, which is high above councils.” (True Christianity 489:1)

What about trusting in the Lord? Can we completely trust in His care? We are told, “Peace holds within itself trust in the Lord.” But even here if we are trusting in our own flawed picture of the Lord’s care such that we are either giving too much responsibility to Him or taking too much responsibility on ourselves, problems are going to arise. Healthy trust is not a simple issue with us fallible human beings.

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