Interpersonal Leadership: Trust-Building
for Trusting Relationships”
By Lloyd Elder, Th.D., adapted from SkillTrack®
Vol. 7.2 - Trust-Building
(and from other SkillTrack®
1. Vision, Trust, and Your Role as Leader
Key text: 1 Cor. 4:1-2--“So then, men ought to
regard us as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the secret things
of God. Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove
- Thesis: As a Christian leader, if you are captivated by
a great kingdom vision, if you call others to join you in shaping and achieving
that vision, if you cast and clearly articulate that vision, you are serving
in a way that inspires trust and pursues the cause of Christ. Let me state
this as a positive affirmation: “As a servant leader, I
accept as my stewardship and vision the kingdom cause of Christ and will seek
to inspire others in the Christian mission.”
- Leaders: Why is vision so essential for developing
trust in leaders? My development of this thesis has been influenced by the
findings of noted authorities in the field of leadership; these examples are
briefly affirmed here:
- Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.
- People expect leaders to have a sense of direction and concern for
the future; to set the vision and call for others to follow. --Kouzes
- Every organization, in order to be healthy, to have renewal processes,
to survive, has to be in touch with reality. I happen to believe that
the first duty of a leader is to define reality.--Max DePree
- A mission [vision] statement that results from broad-based involvement
and that is based on principles [is like] a compass needed in the hands
of every associate. . . . A mission statement that results from broad-based
involvement and that is based on principles [is like] a compass needed
in the hands of every associate. --Stephen R. Covey
- Trusted: To have vision as a leader trusted by others
is to see from the current reality further into the future, even into the
darkness; it is to believe in the power of our Sovereign Christ at work within
His body, the church. To cast a vision is to be a dreamer, but neither as
a life of idleness nor as a substitute for hard work; it is to take time to
see what God is doing and wants done, and to put your life right into the
middle of it. A visionary leader who dreams the impossible dream, remembers
that God is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine (Eph.
3:20). God’s leaders must have spiritual insight; “they must walk
by faith, not by sight” translating the signs of the times into terms
of their spiritual meaning. They must see what others may not see, having
the courage to communicate that vision in a way that others help to shape
it, claim it, and commit to it. (adapted from SkillTrack®
Vol. #2, p. 20)
- Glossary Applied: A word search of vision applied
to trustworthy leadership supports the following aspects of the concept of
“vision,” what it is and how it functions:
- Physical vision: the faculty of sight, of eyesight;
something that is or has been seen with the eye. The leader not only sees
the immediate environment and events, but learns from them and assesses
what they mean to the church’s reality and potential.
- Spiritual vision: unusual competence in discernment
or perception; intelligent foresight of what could be, even ought to be;
a leader of vision inspires others to take up the cause.
- Imagination: Vision is knowledge, experience, and
opportunity fired by imagination to produce a mental image of what needs
to be attempted and achieved.
- Mystical: an experience of seeing as if with the eyes
the supernatural or a supernatural being; records of such experiences
of the presence of God are found within the Christian movement and in
the affairs of humankind.
- Vision-casting: Shape the vision in words, pictures,
and actions in order to clearly articulate its content and impact to others.
- Shared Vision: the most powerful vision is one that
is shaped with, not for, the leaders and members of the congregation.
2. Biblical Teachings about Vision:
- Words translated by vision: As used in the OT
and NT, terms most often refer to an experience in which a person receives
a special revelation from God. Such revelation may regard specific guidance
to a person for a specific occasion, as to Abram in Genesis 12:1-3, or to
Simon Peter in Acts 12:7, or to Saul of Tarsus in Acts 9:3-19. Vision
also has to do with the prophetic function of receiving and delivering the
word of God, interpreting the events in the life of Israel. Often the prophet
had a vision directly from God regarding moral and spiritual requirements
for the nation of Israel (as to Hosea), or to Christian believers (as in John’s
Revelation). On other occasions the vision may be a judgment against a nation
in rebellion against God, such as to Amos or Jonah.
- Mission/Vision in Other Biblical Terms:
- The Great Obsession: Matthew 6:33—“But
seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will
be given to you as well.” (See also Matt. 28:19-20.) Zondervan
Commentary: In view of vv. 31-32, this verse makes it clear that Jesus'
disciples are not simply to refrain from the pursuit of temporal things
as their primary goal in order to differentiate themselves from pagans.
Instead, they are to replace such pursuits with goals of far greater significance.
To seek first the kingdom is to desire above all to enter into, submit
to, and participate in spreading the news of the saving reign of God,
the messianic kingdom already inaugurated by Jesus, and to live so as
to store up treasures in heaven in the prospect of the kingdom's consummation
. . . Such goals alone are worthy of one's wholehearted allegiance. .
. . Within such a framework of commitment, Jesus' disciples are assured
that all the necessary things will be given them by their heavenly Father
(see on 5:45; 6:9), who demonstrates His faithfulness by His care even
for the birds and His concern even for the grass.
- The Trusted Servant Leader: 1 Corinthians 4:1-2—“So
then, men ought to regard us as servants of Christ and as those entrusted
with the secret things of God. Now it is required that those who have
been given a trust must prove faithful.” Zondervan Commentary:
Those entrusted with (oikonomous, “house stewards”)
refers to a position often held by a slave who managed the affairs of
the household entrusted to him. “The secret things of God”
indicates those mysteries of salvation God has revealed in his Word (Rom
16:25; Eph 1:9; 3:3, 4; 1Tim 3:16--the things man cannot discover by his
human wisdom. These truths of the cross have been entrusted to Christian
workers to be carefully used and guarded. As subordinate servants of Christ,
they have no right of authority over those truths, but minister them in
Christ's name to God's people. Response:
- Other Texts for Inspiring Vision:
--The Most Oft Quoted: Proverbs: Prov. 29:18—“Where
is no revelation [vision- KJV] the people cast off restraint
[perish-KJV].” Although in the context, the verse refers to understand
and keeping the law, we often use it to emphasize where there is no discernment
of the Lord’s direction, we are without guidance.
--The Greatest Commandment: Mark 12:29-31—“'The
most important one,' [commandment] answered Jesus, 'is this:
Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your
God with all your heart and with all your soul, and with all your mind
and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your
neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
--The Enduring Work: Matt. 16:17-18—“Jesus
replied, 'Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed
to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are
Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades
will not overcome it.'”
--The Great Commission: Matt. 28:18-20—“Then Jesus came
to them and said, 'All authority in heaven and on earth has been given
to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them
in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching
them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you
always, to the very end of the age.'”
--The Forever Task: Ephesians 3:20-21—“Now to him who
is able to do immeasurably more that all we ask or imagine, according
to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church
and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”
--Strength for Every Task: Phil. 4:11, 13—“I am not saying
this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the
circumstances. . . . I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”
3. Creating Congregational Kingdom Mission and Vision
Kingdom mission and vision are tied together, sometimes treated as synonymous,
in the life and work of a church. Just how does a congregation establish its
mission and vision? Discerned only by pastor and the ministerial staff? No,
but their roles are critically important. Discovered only by the individual
members or as a church body? No, but members of the church should significantly
participate in the process. Find your own place in this proposed mission and
Mission-vision leadership is the capacity to lead the congregation:
-- to establish a kingdom-size mission as its true center;
-- to assess its actual situation, opportunities, and challenges;
-- to cast vision, objectives, and goals toward the future; and,
-- to empower the members to translate vision into reality.
- Developing a Kingdom Mission Statement Builds Trust—which
is a description of what the church was designed to be and to do, and why
it exists in every place and circumstance throughout the ages. The mission
of the church is the living out of its nature as the Body of Christ; it is
doing what Christ would do if He were here in the flesh. The kingdom mission,
or grand purpose, of the church is a statement of Christ’s standing
assignment to all churches across the generation down to our very own. A mission
statement seeks to answer the questions: “What is His reason for the
church, what is its core business? What is the church of the living Christ
supposed to be and to become, to attempt and to accomplish?”
Leadership that keeps focus on the mission of the church is trusted leadership.
What does congregational leadership do to establish its mission and vision?
When members have reached consensus on what God wants them to do, then everyone
can begin to say, “This is my church, and this is my contribution to
its mission.” Seven steps lead the church to develop, redefine, or renew
its mission statement:
- Study the Scriptures - begin with a careful search for biblical guidance.
- Consider the basic functions of any church: worship, education, evangelism,
missions, fellowship, and ministry.
- Ask and answer key mission questions of the church, application in
- Collect, tabulate, analyze, and prioritize responses from members.
- Write a single-sentence mission statement, a concise yet comprehensive
statement that raises the following questions: Is it biblical? Is it specific?
Is it memorable? Is it measurable?
- Push the mission statement into your future; it may merge into your
- Adopt, communicate, and celebrate your church’s mission statement.
Let it become an energizing watchword and a commitment for the whole church.
- Casting a Kingdom Vision Builds Trust: A vision statement
summarizes what the church will do about its kingdom mission in space and
time, usually representing the dream and prophetic voice of church leadership
interacting with the congregation. “Vision” grows out
of the mission, expressing in a thoughtful statement what the congregation
understands it should become and should be doing here and now in order to
fulfill its eternal mission from Christ. Visioning draws upon all
its aspect of meaning: eyesight, insight, foresight, discernment, perception,
mental images. A church vision is the formation of its direction, goals, needs,
and actions into a mental and heartfelt image of what the church should be
at some near future period. Strategic planning and discernment by the congregation,
its leadership and members, should consider such crucial components as:
- Bathe the visioning process in prayer: “What is God’s vision
- Create a written vision statement; put it into clear words and images.
- Communicate that vision to others in small and large groups.
- Remember that vision always involves a participating team.
- Captivate others by using metaphors, parables and pictures.
- Build support for the vision; repeat the vision over and over.
- Coach others to create commitment to the vision.
- Use emotionally charged words to elicit excitement.
- Secure both organizational and personal acceptance.
- Keep clear both the mission and the vision and their mutual interdependence.
4. Ten Vision Leadership Practices
that Build Trust
This concluding section provides for two of our hoped-for objectives for those
who read this article, for those serving in the midst of congregations or ministry
teams: 1) to suggest a summary checklist of vital trust-building practices,
and 2) to facilitate an assessment of your best practices as a ministry leader.
On the •___ of each of the following action descriptions, indicate with
a number (from low 1,2,3,4, or 5 to high) the estimate of your performance as
a vision trust-builder. The list is somewhat sequential but, in reality,
is a connected cluster:
- ___Start by developing a kingdom vision with, not for,
your congregation, one that grows out of the kingdom mission statement. If
you have a vision statement, keep it vital and active, not merely in print
and on file, which too often means “on ice.”
- ___Energize your own efforts by focusing on the cause of Christ as stated
in the Great Commission and other Scriptures; also, as expressed in the mission
and vision statement, energize others to join in actions that fulfill Christ’s
- ___Bathe the visioning process in prayer: “What is God’s vision
for us at this time in our history?” “What are the longings, dreams,
and needs of the people?”
- ___Involve significantly your team leaders and members in the process of
developing and casting such a kingdom vision; use emotionally charged words
to elicit thoughtfulness, excitement, inspiration, and enthusiasm.
- ___Build support for the vision: report and communicate to others, to individuals,
small and large groups, and to the congregation; repeat the vision over and
over; captivate others by using stories, metaphors, parables and pictures.
- ___Enable your co-workers and members to participate fully: in goal-setting,
action planning, and developing resources for achieving the vision.
- ___Work joyfully and continuously on the dream; remember that vision achievement
always involves a team; coach others to develop skills, concepts and essentials
to the vision.
- ___Keep clear the mutual interdependence of the kingdom mission and vision;
secure personal and organizational commitment and contribution; measure efforts
and achievements by the mission’s high standard.
- ___Cast the vision and do the work in such a way that you meet essential
needs of the people involved. When the goals are reached and the vision is
completed, are the people served and satisfied? Can they say, “Look
what we have done together. I am blessed and I believe our Lord is honored”?
- ___Accept an enduring responsibility and accountability for visionary leadership:
“to whom much is given, much is required.”
For Reflection and Assessment:
In conclusion, let me emphasis again that casting a “kingdom vision”
enables a trusted leader to serve, not only the needs of the team or organization,
but also to serve some of the deepest needs of the people involved. Ellen Castro
in Spirited Leadership: 52 Ways to Build Trust on the Job, affirms that
“spirited leadership that builds trust provides a vision:” (p.
Three of the universal needs of people are fulfilled when a leader provides
a vision. These three needs are: a sense of belonging, a sense of accomplishment,
and a sense of recognition.
-- a sense of belonging to one another and a goal worthy of the efforts;
-- a sense of accomplishment and challenge on three levels: self, team, and
-- a sense of recognition for the efforts of everyone on the team, with shared
encouragement, victories, and disappointments.
The spirited leader takes every opportunity to communicate the vision, which
is ethical, simple, and attainable. It is a vision that inspires the heart
and provides clarity. With clarity and focus, the team experiences excitement,
buy-in, and commitment.
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© 2008 servantleaderstoday.com; hosted and copyrighted
by Lloyd Elder & Associates, Inc.
For full citation of referenced works, see Bibliography/Links
Adapted by Lloyd Elder, Th.D., Founding Director, Moench Center for Church Leadership