Sam Rainer on The Difference Between Breaking Trust and Making a Mistake

Leaders fail when they accuse someone of breaking trust when all the person did was make an honest mistake. It’s demoralizing for the accused. Leaders also fail when they dismiss betrayal, thinking that betrayer was simply mistaken. That’s dangerous for the leader.

I’ve made mistakes as a leader. One in particular stands out. The pre-filled-peel-and-partake communion cups were a mistake. I thought they would make the Lord’s Supper process more efficient. Apparently, no one cares about efficiency in worship when the communion cups randomly explode after being exposed to freezing weather during the shipping process. After a few years, I can laugh about it. No one laughed then.

Leaders make mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes. Mistakes occur for many reasons: laziness, stubbornness, misinformation, miscalculations, and ineptitude. Even the most competent of people, however, make honest mistakes, like when communion cups become grape juice grenades.

Making a mistake is different than breaking trust — qualitatively different. Breaking trust is never appropriate. Breaking trust is a form of betrayal. It’s one thing for communion cups to explode. It’s another thing to work behind the scenes to undermine or deceive a friend. The mistake stains clothes. The betrayal stains a soul.

Your team will make mistakes. You should expect others to make mistakes. In fact, you should give your team the freedom to make mistakes. But you should also maintain zero tolerance for a betrayal of trust. As a church leader, how can you tell the difference between a mistake and betrayal?

Ask before jumping to conclusions. If you believe someone has made a major mistake that could rise to the level of breaking trust, then your first step is to talk to the individual. Too often leaders jump to conclusions without hearing the other side. Too often this leap is due to the leader’s own insecurities.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Sam Rainer