Monday, August 1, 2016

Trust begins with truth

Hillary Clinton has commented several times in the past week that she has a lot of work to do due to the large percentage of people who do not trust her. While both major party candidates have issues and neither can claim the moral high ground, polls continually find that many more Americans trust Trump more than Clinton. The reason really is simple: she has been caught lying too often.

  • She claimed in several speeches that she landed in Bosnia under sniper fire. None of her companions on that trip remembered that fact, and a video of her landing and leaving the airplane clearly showed her calmly walking out of the plane.
  • When terrorists attacked the diplomatic post in Benghazi Clinton blamed the attack on an anti-Muslim video on YouTube. This was the story she told the American public and the families of those killed in that attack even though she e-mailed her daughter and the Prime Minister of Egypt that the Administration knew the attack was planned and had nothing to do with the video. 
  • Despite insisting that none of her e-mails that went through her personal computer as Secretary of State contained classified information, the FBI found that several of them were classified and some were even marked Top Secret.
These are only a handful of many, many lies Hillary Clinton has been caught telling. We should also remember that she blamed a vast right-wing conspiracy for her husband's problems after it was claimed that he had an affair with a White House intern. She insisted on national television that she and her husband had discussed in depth the matter and she was satisfied with his answers. Bill Clinton would later be impeached for perjury after he lied under oath about his relationship with the intern and obstruction of justice by the House of Representatives after a Federal Judge held him in contempt of court for giving false, misleading and evasive answers designed to obstruct the  judicial process.

I am not making a political statement here. This is not a Democrat issue or a Republican issue; it is a character issue. A leader's effectiveness will be determined by his or her character. People do not follow people they do not trust, and we do not trust people we believe do not tell us the truth. Certainly, this does not mean that Clinton won't be elected because many do not trust Trump either. This is likely to be a wild campaign season with a lot of mud-slinging by both sides, and there's plenty of mud to go around.

This trust issue is also important to those of us in church leadership. I've known too many pastors who lost the trust of their congregations because they began to doubt the pastor's character. In some cases, he or she was caught in untruths. Sometimes the problem was that the pastor did not do what was promised. Some pastors refused to take responsibility when mistakes were made and tried to shift the blame on others. Whatever the reason, when a congregation begins to question the character of their pastor, that person's ministry is done in the church unless he or she is able to demonstrate to be a person of character.

Church leaders must tell the truth every time even when it hurts. We need to own up to our mistakes when they occur. We need to do what we say we are going to do when we say we'll do it. We need to avoid making promises that we can't meet. Although none of us will ever be perfect we need to attempt to live our lives, with the help of God, in line with what we preach. When we demonstrate our commitment to such a life we will find people more willing to follow us, and we will enjoy a much more productive ministry.

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