The importance of trust

If you mention “Prosperity Gospel” Christians will usually react badly, and perhaps they should because of the teaching of those who seem to think that Christianity is all about financial wealth. On the other hand I could say that  the Bible is all about prosperity, in the sense that prosperity is about health and wellbeing – individual and corporate – in the broadest sense.

While not believing that being Christian necessarily results in financial wealth, there are Christian teachings which if followed are likely to result in a growth in wealth and prosperity for the whole community. One of these is the encouragement to be trustworthy and to seek to trust others. This is mentioned specificaly, and also encompassed in “Do to others as you would like them to do to you.” The reason for this is that trust is necessary for trade to thrive, which is presumably why “my word is my bond” was once the motto successfully lived out by the City of London.

So it is with considerable sadness that I see greed and a lack of trust as underlying recent financial collapses (the “credit crunch”). As another example, I have heard of local farmers (in the UK) who have agreed prices for the sale of their grain to one of the trading at a certain time in the future. The price of grain has dropped and the traders seek to renege on their contracts as it will be difficult for them to sell on the grain. Of course they would not worry if their sale prices had gone up.

Trust takes time to build, and can be easily damaged. Perhaps the most important thing the business community can seek to do at the moment is to build trust, through being trustworthy. This is about a focus on relationships, not on solving a “financial problem.”

Interestingly, in his book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey speaks of the importance of trust, and how we need to start to build that by keeping the promises that we make to ourselves (individually).  As is so often the case, we need to start with ourselves.