DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Trust requires words and actions.

Written by: on September 20, 2018

Not long ago I had a conversation with a colleague about an upcoming event I was planning. He had some information to communicate regarding a particular detail of the event and we discussed logistics overall. Part way through the conversation he paused. Then he said, “Trisha, I want you to know that I trust you. Do whatever you think needs to happen.” This conversation was empowering for me as I knew my responsibilities and was given license to operate fully in my strengths. More than the single conversation, this leader has backed his words with action time and again, deferring to me and including me when important decisions arise. The trust extends from actions and is reaffirmed in words.

I work with several different communities of leaders and what I see time and again is that few leaders both act and speak trust. For leaders to give license is one thing but to affirm their trust in one’s abilities is another. Communicating trust happens through both words and actions.

Trust is such an important role in communication that Judith Glaser, executive coach, author, academic, and organizational anthropologist, wrote a book focused on the theme titled Conversational Intelligence: How Great Leaders Build Trust and Get Extraordinary Results. Glaser teaches how conversations effect different parts of the brain and trains people to respond differently, rerouting the brains chemistry and growing their conversational intelligence in the process.

Glaser’s research reveals that when leaders do not resonate or initially feel trust with others, they may feel uncertain which increases a level of distrust in the brain.[1] “When gaps arise between what we expect and what we get we become uncertain of our relationship and our fear networks begin to take control of our brains. As a result, we find ourselves lacking the neurochemical and hormonal support for placing trust in others.”[2] Thus, when we feel comfortable with someone we will trust them, open up, and share. When our personal fears are activated by another, will be out of sync and unable to connect.

In considering the ways the church develops leaders with particular emphasis on those different from oneself, Glaser’s book prompted the question, ‘Could distrust be one of the core components of not empowering new leaders, especially leaders who are not like us?’

Perhaps the action of developing leaders in the church has less to do with our theology and more to do with our ability to trust others. Theological or competence reasons are often cited for not empowering someone. But what if uncertainty or distrust of their ability is prompting theological justification?

Distrust of another can be well masked until people come face to face in conversation or in conflict. However, trust or distrust can be entangled with implicit bias. Harvard has been conducting a live study on implicit bias for more than ten years, called the Project Implicit with a website for continuing to gather data through voluntary quizzes.[3] I recently took a few of their free tests to determine my own implicit bias regarding men vs women with a focus on career. The study also has implicit association tests on race, sexual orientation, and a number of other social attitudes.

Becoming aware of our bias is a starting point for change. This is true with Glaser’s book as well. Simply making people aware of the fact that their brain behaves differently when they sense insecurity or fear helps them to consider the many topics that she lays out for remapping the brain.

Glaser, like Tina Seelig, is brilliant and has scientific research to propagate her methods for helping people. Glaser’s abundance of content with details for reframing, changing the level of the conversation, creating mental dashboards, etc. are all helpful concepts. However, the many concepts are difficult to implement without thorough training from a coach such as herself over a period of time. Glaser’s text can come across as a bit gimmicky when compared across the plethora of leadership books on conversations and the key element of trust. Though she is not saying anything truly new, she has packaged it in a way that relates to large corporations and groups, such as the Gates Foundation.[4]

When thinking back to my conversation with my colleague and the trust that he had in my ability, I realize that my trust in him has grown as a result. We expect and encourage one another to thrive in our roles and so we both communicate this with our words and actions. The result is we are much more productive and amiable in our work together and as part of our larger team.

Trust is a core component of Christianity. The Psalmist implores the hearer to, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding.  Acknowledge him in all your ways, and he will make your paths straight.”[5] Trust with the Lord should create a pathway to begin trusting others. As Glaser has shown, our brains are wired to build connections of trust. And, as Paul led throughout the New Testament, the church is called to be one of unity (trusting one another as we trust Christ) in diversity (people coming together from a variety of backgrounds and ethnicities).

Employing both the words of the Psalmist and the actions of Paul with the practical insight from Glaser on building trust could set the church on a trajectory toward Kingdom centric health and growth. My research will continue to explore this theme with emphasis on trust and the Other, specifically as it relates to developing leadership with women and people of color in the Wesleyan Tradition.


[1] Glaser, Judith E. Conversational Intelligence: How Great Leaders Build Trust and Get Extraordinary Results. Brookline, MA: Bibliomotion, 2016, 25.

[2] Glaser, 26.



[5] Psalm 3:5-6 NET

About the Author


Trisha Welstad

Trisha is passionate about investing in leaders to see them become all God has created them to be. As an ordained Free Methodist elder, Trisha has served with churches in LA and Oregon, leading as a pastor of youth and spiritual formation, a church planter, and as a co-pastor of a church restart. Trisha currently serves as leadership development pastor at Northside Community Church in Newberg, OR. Over the last five years Trisha has directed the Leadership Center, partnering with George Fox and the Free Methodist and Wesleyan Holiness churches. The Leadership Center is a network facilitating the development of new and current Wesleyan leaders, churches and disciples through internships, equipping, mentoring and scholarship. In collaboration with the Leadership Center, Trisha serves as the director of the Institute for Pastoral Thriving at Portland Seminary and with Theologia: George Fox Summer Theology Institute. She is also adjunct faculty at George Fox University. Trisha enjoys throwing parties, growing food, listening to the latest musical creations by Troy Welstad and laughing with her two children.

11 responses to “Trust requires words and actions.”

  1. This: ‘Could distrust be one of the core components of not empowering new leaders, especially leaders who are not like us?’ is a really good question. I think you are on to something here. I just listened to a book called Trust and Betrayal in the Workplace, and realized that trust is so fundamental to our ability to work together, much less engage in discipleship.

    • mm Trisha Welstad says:

      Thanks Jenn. I think this is a big question and a core question and maybe overlooked. I am going to dig into this aspect a bit more although I am not sure pastors will readily admit they are not trusting those in their congregations/leadership circles.

  2. mm Jay Forseth says:

    Hi Trish,

    Perfect title! And I so much agree.

    Do actions speak louder than words? Of course! Your article articulated that fact very well. Thank you for the Scripture you shared, and thank you for your very important dissertation topic.

    Looking forward to seeing you, mom and your newest sweet one in HK.

    • mm Trisha Welstad says:

      Thanks Jay. I am seeing the need for trust to go a bit deeper and that it’s much more than a good corporate niche idea.

  3. mm M Webb says:

    Actions speak louder than words my Dad always told me.
    When I deal with people I always try to take them at face value, express trust, and reflect the image of Christ. I would estimate that 80-90% of my relationships and leadership opportunities result in a “power-with” trust outcome. However, sometimes trust can bite you when you lease expect it, and I think it is those opportunities when others really watch to see if you still reflect Christ. For example, one of my drivers called me when I was bow hunting last week to report a minor collision where some minor paint was exchanged with another driver. He sent me a picture, said the other driver was “cool” and that it was an unreportable incident. After I got home, I went and looked at the “paint swapping” to determine what was needed to make it right with the other driver. Our truck only had a minor scratch on the black bumper, which could be fixed with a spray can of paint. The other car was not so fortunate. The two repair estimates I obtained are around $2,000. Do I still trust my driver? Yes, but sometimes you still must be the boss. Since we are paying out of pocket for this teaching moment the driver will share in our loss, in a healthy and safety promoting manner. Trust but verify.
    See you in HK.
    Stand firm,
    M. Webb

    • mm Trisha Welstad says:

      Mike, this is such a good point and your story illustrates it well. It is important to trust but also reflect the image of Christ when things don’t go well or trust is taken advantage of. How did your driver respond to the estimates and the shared loss? Do you think he has mutual trust in you? I am curious how the relationship continues from his end as well.

  4. Great post as always and I couldn’t agree more with what you said about trust and the church. Look forward to meeting Lucy…and seeing you of course.

  5. mm Kyle Chalko says:

    Excellent post and really practical application to trust in real leadership moments.

    Looking forward to seeing you soon!

  6. Shawn Hart says:

    Trisha, there has always been a scripture that has forced me to view my role as a minister of the Gospel; in John 15:18, Jesus said, “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you.” Because of this passage, the issue of “bias” that you addressed has always been a conflicting issue in my heart. I have looked at the role of preaching from two perspectives: on the one hand, I saw the need to show this loving, compassionate man of God that desires to bring souls to Christ; however, on the other hand, I see the necessity of staying true to that which I believe, regardless of whether or not the listener is happy about it. The very fact of Christianity shows that we are biased…that cannot be avoided. However, I also know that there is this constant struggle to not allow our bias to corrupt the message either. How do we avoid the mistake of “Giving them what they want,” rather than “Giving them what they need,” and yet still protect the nature of our ministry to the lost? I am very worried that we tend to get beat into submission by the masses, rather than remembering that the cause of Christ will leave the people hating us for the message we bring.

    • mm Trisha Welstad says:

      Shawn, that’s a hard passage in today’s context. I think we have to stand in our bias/preference for Christ and then we let the chips fall knowing that we do so with a heart of love and compassion for our neighbor. If the world hates and rejects us it’s because they are hating/rejecting our God.

  7. Chris Pritchett says:

    I think you got to the heart of the book with the focus on trust and/or distrust in leadership. It seems to me that trust is everything, but in order to trust there has to be known trustworthiness on the other side. The incredible leader who gave you license was able to do so successfully because you are trustworthy and he knows it. The challenge for me as a leader is that I tend to over-trust people who have not proven themselves trustworthy. As a result, I have been taken advantage of, actually pretty significantly in my last post, by employees who squandered the freedom I gave them. Sadly, when that happens, the leader has to tighten the reigns a little bit. It seems that Max Depree was right when he said that Leadership is an Art.

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