9 Ways for Church Leaders to Lose the Trust of Other Believers  

I spend a lot of time with pastors and church members—and I’m often an ear for them when they’re hurting or angry. Particularly, I often hear when church folks no longer trust their leaders. Be aware of these actions that might cost you the trust of others:

  1. Lie about something. Whether it’s perceived to be a “little lie” (whatever that is) or a blatant one doesn’t matter; speak (or write, as on a resume) something other than the truth, and folks won’t trust you.
  2. Break your word. I’ve written elsewhere why I don’t promise confidentiality, but I do assume that we will honor our word to others. When others no longer trust our word, we’re in trouble as ministers of the gospel.
  3. Gossip about somebody. It’s almost always tempting to tell somebody else when we learn about another believer’s struggles, failures, and sins. Even when we cloak our gleeful gossip in a “prayer request,” though, we’re still betraying someone.
  4. Tell off-color jokes. Church leaders don’t usually publicly go in this direction; rather, they sometimes do in the perceived safe place of their office or a trusted relationship. Somebody’s listening, though—and it’s tough to trust the leader on Sunday whose words aren’t God-honoring on Monday.
  5. Treat your family poorly. Not even the best hypocrite can always cover up his sinful attitudes toward his family. Treat your family unkindly or disrespectfully, and some church member will lose trust in you.
  6. Plagiarize a sermon. It’s one matter to use someone else’s material as part of your sermon and give him credit; it’s another matter when you claim someone else’s material as your own.
  7. Misuse funds. Unfortunately, some church leaders have little accountability about how they spend the church’s money. Misuse those funds, and others will never trust you again (and, you could even go to jail. . . ).
  8. Put something stupid on social media. These days, the world seems to see everything we post—and some leaders are far too flippant about what they post. Once it’s out there, it’s hard to take it back.
  9. Be lazy. Take your paycheck without earning it. This temptation is especially strong when church leaders have little accountability for what they do each day.
  10. Fall morally. Needless to say, a fall rips apart the bonds of trust.

Pray for your church leaders today. 


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