A school counselor was looking out for her first grade children, and noticed a little girl named Tracy, who was having some difficulties adjusting to school life. She was shy and not mixing well with the other kids.
So Mrs Edwards called Tracy into her office. “Tracy, I want to be your friend. I will never tell your mummy or daddy or your teacher anything we talk about, if you don’t want me to. I want you to know that you can always trust me”. Tracy started to cry, and then said, “Gee, Mrs Edwards, you’re just like my dog”. I think I know what she meant—her pet dog was totally trustworthy, part of the family, who could be relied on.
It opens up a fascinating topic to talk about today: Am I a trustworthy person? Can my word be relied on? Do people trust and believe in me? Can I keep a confidence in the way I expect others to? How about being true to your word? Do you say, We should get together for a meal sometime and never take it any further? Are you always late for an appointment?
I know these are personal issues, but they’re worth thinking about. Honesty and reliability are good traits to have, as well as integrity and loyalty. How good it is if I am known as a person of my word!
Now, I know that your trust in others can go astray. You may have felt the pain of being let down by another person—people constantly disappoint us:
- A friend offers to help you move some furniture on a Saturday morning, but he never shows up.
- Your daughter tells you she will be home at 10 pm, but it’s midnight before she returns. I lost track, of the time, she says.
- Your manager at work promises to let the boss know about your key role in that big project, but he takes all the credit for himself.
A neighbour constantly lets his dog dig in your shrubs—even after you ask him not to.
There are myriad examples of one human failing another. The Boy Scouts movement had as part of its motto, A Scout tells the truth. He keeps his promises. Honesty is part of his code of conduct. People can depend on him.
What are the traits of trustworthy people?
I guess what I am talking about are trustworthy people. Are there particular traits you can see in a trustworthy person? Yes, there are—no-one is perfect of course, but trustworthy people:
- most of the time show up on time.
- make sure things happen, usually, the way they said something would happen.
- when they tell you about an event, the information is so thorough that when you find out more about the event or learn about it from another source, usually the descriptions match.
- rarely lie and don’t expect you to lie for them.
- usually don’t lie by omission to ‘protect’ you or because they want to avoid ‘upsetting’ you.
- are rarely hypocritical.
- usually give real apologies.
It was Mahatma Gandhi who said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world”. We all need to improve the way we think and act, and you can’t really expect the people around you to be trustworthy if you’re not.
Trustworthy people in the Bible
I see that the Apostle Paul wanted to be known as a Christian leader of trust. He wrote to the church at Corinth—and we have it in 2 Corinthians 4:2—“We don’t try to fool anyone or twist God’s message around. God is our witness that we speak only the truth, so others will be sure that we can be trusted”.
Proverbs 11:13 says, “Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a thing covered.”
The Hebrew word for ‘trustworthy’ actually means dependable, faithful. The Bible is not saying it’s impossible to find a truthful person, but it can be difficult. Jesus put his trust in a small group of 12 dedicated followers, but two of them gave way in a time of testing. Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus, and Peter declared his love and allegiance to Jesus, only to curse him in a moment of testing.
However, in the midst of such disappointments, there was John who remained loyal and trustworthy to the end. John followed Jesus from his arrest, through his trial and to the cross. (Read it in John 18).
John stood unflinchingly at the cross as Jesus was crucified. Jesus regarded John’s loyalty and trustworthiness by committing his mother to John’s care. (John 19:26-27). John was a rare man in a most difficult time.