Chaplain Commentary

  • Published
  • By Maj. Timothy Jacobs
  • 302nd Airlift Wing

“Trust me. I know what I’m doing.”

This was the mantra of an over-the-top cop who was the main character in "Sledge Hammer," a short-lived (but well-loved by me!) TV series back in the 1980s. Whenever he would pull out his giant .44 magnum and utter that phrase, you knew everything was about to go off the rails! But while saying “trust me,” before you blow everything up might make for entertaining TV, it certainly doesn’t work in real life.

During the January unit training assembly Col. Brett Schumer, 302nd Airlift Wing deputy commander, led a session on culture in the workplace and a huge topic of that discussion was building trust. So many Airmen resonated with the fact that trust is absolutely vital when it comes to a healthy workplace culture and for successful relationships in general.

In fact, I’d say it like this: Your currency as a human being is entirely dependent on the ability of others to TRUST you. This is a universal concept. Take the Bible for example. One of the main questions that both the Old and New Testaments attempt to answer is not merely whether God exists, but if he can truly be trusted. Think of your life in a similar way: the fact that you exist is not the issue… it is whether or not you can be trusted!

So, how do you become someone that others can trust? Here are three ways:

1) Do what you say you will do. In their classic book “The Leadership Challenge,” authors Kouzes and Posner are so adamant about this that they turned that phrase into an acronym: DWYSYWD. If you say you’ll be there at 1800, be there at 1800 (or even earlier)! If you say you will deal with the problem, then deal with the problem. It sounds so simple, but sadly that kind of credibility is so rare. Why? Is it because people don’t want to be trustworthy? I don’t think so. It’s more complicated than that, which leads to the next point.

2) Order your life in such a way that others can depend on you. No doubt you’re doing everything you can to manage well your traditional reservist career, your civilian pursuits and trying to be the best spouse, parent, friend, you can possibly be. If you’re anything like me, you’re routinely riding the line of insanity when it comes to the amount of commitments you’ve made. But this is where people like us have got to be careful. Let me ask you this: Is your lifestyle preventing you from being a trustworthy person? In other words, are you not able to do what you say you will do because you just don’t have the capacity to do it? Notice it’s not about intentions, it’s about ability. We all have good intentions. In fact, even while writing this article, I just responded to an email with, “I’ll get back to you on this.” But is that true? I want it to be. But if my life is too chaotic, it won’t be, and the value of my word will diminish. That leads to the third way to build trust.

3) Speak the truth, even if it hurts. Jesus talks about this in the New Testament where he says, “Let what you say be simply ‘yes’ or ‘no’” (Matt. 5:37). In other words, don’t be someone who needs to convince others of the truth of your words through extreme sentiments such as swearing on your own life. Be the type of person who, when people hear what comes out of your mouth, they believe it. It’s amazing how much anxiety you can reduce in the lives of the people around you if you become someone who is known for speaking the truth!

While you may not be the star of a hit TV series anytime soon, being a trustworthy person will be of far more value. Plus, you won’t need to say, “Trust me,” to anyone. They just will.