Build Trust: Develop relationship in order to cultivate & affirm spiritual growth
The importance of building trust should not be understated. Christians have been sounding the "truth alarm" to the LGBT community for decades with little fruit to show for it. Truth is important and it sets people free, but if people don't have ears to hear that truth, then we are telling the truth in vain. Let's be honest, simply telling truth is easy & it takes little investment in people. A bit of boldness and a few minutes and I've (supposedly) fulfilled my responsibility. However, building trust requires a lot of time, energy, patience, prayer, conversations, and loving sacrifice. The church has expected the gay community to bow their knees to truth without receiving the investment of relational trust.
I think about how God reaches people and it seems it's often by earning our trust FIRST, then showing us His truth second. I love this about Him because he is the ONE person who has the right (and power) to make us trust Him. And yet our humble Father desires to build trust with us before he ever expects us to choose his way and believe it is better. When someone gave me the 6 verses about homosexuality, I honestly could not have cared less. Why? Because I didn't believe that the place this person was coming from was for my good. More importantly, I didn't believe God was for me either. I felt little conviction when shaking my fist and turning a cold shoulder. God is always up to the challenge of earning trust and winning any heart that isn't turned towards Him yet. If the God of the universe does not expect our obedience until he has earned our trust, Christians should do the same.
It was when He touched my heart and filled my soul (without me asking) during a worship service that I dared to attend that I believed He was for me and caused me to reconsider that His sexual standards may just be better than my own sexual ethic. Earning my trust gave me ears to hear his truth and a heart that wanted to know more.
So how can Christians build trust? Here are just a few:
- Spend time with LGBT people not to change them, but to enjoy them. God delights in us without us ever changing one thing. This makes me want to walk with him closer and consequently surrender my life more and more.
- Acknowledge that you have doubts about your own faith at times. This doesn't make you look weak, but rather human, accessible, and approachable.
- Ask them to share their story. Be curious about how they got to where they are today & acknowledge their resilience and strength. Don't look for holes in their story; Just listen.
- Let them pray for you (if they are comfortable doing that) and share your weaknesses.
- Meet practical, everyday needs they may have - no strings attached.
This blog is one in a series of 30+ tips for relational effectiveness with LGBT people. Find the condensed list HERE. These relational tips are from a handout acquired from “Lead Them Home”, a Boston based ministry that equips the church on LGBT issues. These blogs have been expounded upon with permission.
These tips, along with numerous other insights, are found in an excellent resource called “Guiding Families” available HERE.