Our world is becoming increasingly social through incredible tools such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, and countless others. All of these tools have tremendous value, and I believe they are great resources to expand, and even enrich, our social connections.
But for social connections to thrive, we must add foundational truths to the tools that enable social connections. Tools minus truths equals dysfunction. You enrich your relationships with tools but you establish your relationships on truths.
So what truth is at the core of healthy relationships? Whether it’s your spouse, kids, fiance, boyfriend, girlfriend, best friend, co-workers, or employer, I believe The Trust Hinge is the first key to healthy relationships.
Trust implies leaning on, confiding in, and being certain. In Scripture, trust is a picture of support and security. It’s something that grows over time and results in confidence and influence. So what exactly is “The Trust Hinge?”
In Titus 2, the apostle Paul describes a relationship between Christian slaves and their masters. In our context today, we could also apply this passage to the relationship between employers and employees. Paul writes:
Teach slaves to be subject to their masters in everything, to try to please them, not to talk back to them, and not to steal from them, but to show that they can be fully trusted, so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive. (Titus 2:9-10)
These two verses are hinged around a powerful statement: “…but to show that they can be fully trusted.” Trust is the hinge on which healthy relationships swing. A hinge links two things together. In the case of a door hinge, one part of the hinge is connected to the wall. The wall is firm, established, and immovable. But the other part of the hinge is connected to the door. Doors open…they lead you to new opportunities. In this passage, we learn a core truth about relationships:
Trust is the Relational Hinge Between the Wall of Character and the Door of Opportunity
On one side of the Trust Hinge is the “Wall of Character.” Paul describes this wall of character when he instructs slaves to demonstrate character in three primary ways:
- Serve their employer with their employer’s interests in mind
- Speak to their employer with the proper attitude
- Steward their employer’s resources with integrity
When employees do these things, they will “show that they can be fully trusted.” In other words, firm character is the wall on which relational trust hangs. Paul is saying, “Trustworthy behavior produces trust in relationships” and he’s implying that untrustworthy behavior produces distrust in relationships.
Not having trust is like walking in the dark. If you get out of bed in the middle of the night, and you’re trying to see your way around, your trust is immediately circumvented by uncertainty and suspicion. Why? Because you can’t see reality clearly. The same is true in relationships. When the relationship is shadowed by character flaws, suspicion and uncertainty circumvent the relationship.
In his book The DNA of Relationships, Dr. Gary Smalley makes a powerful observation about being trustworthy with others, and being trustworthy with ourselves. He says:
“When you are trustworthy with others, you dedicate yourself to treating them as the valuable and vulnerable people that they are. When you are trustworthy with yourself, you act in ways consistent with your own value and vulnerability” (p. 81)
When you’re trustworthy with others, you don’t take advantage of them because you recognize them as valuable human beings and as vulnerable people. You see them the way God sees them and thus act in a trustworthy manner toward them. When you’re trustworthy with yourself, you act in a way that expresses your personal value and vulnerability. You stand up for the value God has placed on you rather than letting others take advantage of your vulnerability.
Seeing people, and yourself, as valuable and vulnerable requires character and integrity. Without it, the Trust Hinge has nothing firm to hang onto.
On the other side of the Trust Hinge is the “Door of Opportunity.” Titus 2:10b says, “…but to show that they can be fully trusted, so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive.”
The word translated “attractive” means to “adorn.” It’s the idea of arranging jewels in a manner that sets off their beauty. When you go to a jewelry store to look at diamond rings, the light is perfect and the rings are carefully arranged in the display case. In other words, they are made to look their very best.
Paul is suggesting that when we act with character in a trustworthy manner, it’s like arranging the teachings of God to look the most beautiful. In the case of Titus 2, Paul was saying to slaves, “When you act with trustworthy character toward your masters, the door for representing the Gospel swings open.” The same principle is true for us today. When we act with trustworthy character, it opens the door of opportunity. How?
- When you act with trustworthy character in your marriage, the door of a love-filled marriage swings open.
- When you act with trustworthy character toward your boss, the door of raises and praises swings open.
- When you act with trustworthy character toward your friends, the door of fun-filled memories swings open.
- When you act with trustworthy character toward your co-workers, the door of camaraderie and cooperation swings open.
- When you act with trustworthy character toward your parents, the door of greater freedom swings open.
Remember, Trust is the Relational Hinge Between the Wall of Character and the Door of Opportunity
All of us want the open doors, but the question is, “Are we willing to address the character deficiencies in our lives that prevent those doors from opening?”
- When doors of love and joy are not opening in your marriage, what character deficiencies are you willing to address in your life?
- When the doors of praises and raises are not opening on your job, what character deficiencies are you willing to address in your work ethic?
- When the doors of fun-filled memories are not opening with your friends, what character deficiencies are you willing to address in who you are as a friend?
- When the doors of camaraderie and cooperation are not opening with your co-workers, what character deficiencies are you willing to address in how you work?
- When the doors of freedom are not opening with your parents, what character deficiencies are you willing to address in honoring and obeying your parents?
Healthy relationships require trust. When The Trust Hinge has a Wall of Character to firmly connect to in your life, doors of opportunity are more likely to swing open.
Question: How have you seen the “Trust Hinge” work in life, leadership, and relationships?