And Called It Life

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Trust Is Essential To Building And Sustaining Life

by Eric Elkin

...they shall not fear any longer, or be dismayed, nor shall any be missing, says the Lord.
— Jeremiah 23:4b

Never take for granted that children who grow up together, attend the same school, the same church and share the same friends trust each other. Even when they appear to be close, children often remain subconsciously suspicious of their friends. It is one of the reasons I believe in team building exercises.


One of my favorite exercises used to be trust falls. Trust falls begin by teaching children how to spot and catch each other when falling. The techniques learned progress from simple to more complex as cohesiveness develops. Children gain confidence as they experience and witness participants being caught by others.


A confirmation group I was working with struggled to maintain attention through the learning process. They interrupted instructions and half-heartedly participated in the different stages. Every attempt to re-focus the group failed. Instead of stopping the activity and processing the dysfunction, I continued. 


Standing on a platform three feet off the ground, I went through the contract exchange between myself and the spotters. When I fell from the platform, the group did not catch me. Thankfully, I did not get hurt.


While not an advisable approach to facilitating a team building activity, the fall worked in my favor. The group of children was stunned to attention. Each child after the incident was focused. They understood the importance of their role in making the event safe and in building trust.


When people describe feelings of joy, it is in unison with others, and it is in pursuit of good and its always that moment when the skin barrier fades away; when something that seemed like you and something else melds.
— David Brooks

The story provides an excellent metaphor for our current cultural climate. We do not trust our elected leaders. We do not trust our political opponents. We do not trust the police, pastors, teachers, lawyers, professors, the wealthy, the poor, the list goes on and on. Trust is rapidly declining even in the few institutions which remain trustworthy. 


A 2017 Pew Research Center study confirmed this reality. Public trust in the government is at an all-time low. There is nothing currently taking place indicating a reverse in this trend.


Our cultural climate makes the words of Jeremiah seem like an excerpt from a recent news article. Faithless shepherds are easy to spot and hope for a good one to emerge intensifies. However, I doubt waiting for a person to be a good shepherd for us will be all that effective. 


At the recent Aspen Ideas Festival, author, and commentator, David Brooks noted, “The most important part of our consciousness is our desiring heart. We all have a desiring heart. We survive by intimacy. Love wires the fibers of the brain together.”


Perhaps, like the confirmation children, we need to be called to attention. Instead of looking for an external person to change us, we need to see ourselves as agents of change. Not waiting for someone to be trustworthy to us, instead, being trustworthy ourselves and attentive to the needs of others. It seems to me there was a good shepherd who once taught this very thing and called it life.

Click to read Jeremiah 23: 1-6

Reflection Questions:

  • Who do you trust?
  • How can a lack of trust rob you of life?
  • How can you being trustworthy restore life?
  • Where can you have a more positive impact on the world today?

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