We’ll turn your house into a home, the slick TV commercial for a national furniture store chain promises. The concept is simple: fill your house with furniture from this store, and your house will become a warm, happy, inviting place where children get along, marriages thrive and the future is promising.

Or, if your smile lacks that certain luster, use this particular tooth-whitening formula and you will automatically become a happier, more attractive person whose social calendar stays full.

Especially during this, an election year, candidates repeatedly assure us that they will make decisions in our best interest if we will only trust them enough to elect them.

From products to politics, trust us, they say. They’re experts.

The chorus continues to grow of those who tell us we simply must trust them if we want our lives, families, communities and nation to be better. We all want that, so we generally believe them.

We often give away our trust too readily because we don’t want to do the difficult work of weighing issues and coming to our own conclusions. It’s just easier, we may rationalize, to let someone else decide for us. Easier, maybe. But best? Rarely.

Several years ago, a powerful episode in the popular television series “Designing Women” focused on the issue of breast cancer in women. One of the characters found a suspicious lump and went to her long-time physician, who told her not to worry about it. Come back in six months, he said, and if it’s still there, we’ll look into it.

Her friends and coworkers urged her to get a second opinion. Six months can mean the difference between life and death where cancer is concerned. She was reluctant to do so, afraid of offending the doctor. But at her friends’ relentless urging, she did.

Julia Sugarbaker, the show’s character known for her willingness always to speak her mind, was not content simply to leave her friend in the care of the new physician, who pursued the proper course. She paid the first doctor a visit and confronted him about his advice to patients to “let him do the worrying for them.”

Seems she’d had more than one friend who’d been his patient and who had trusted his advice. One of them died. Had she received a proper diagnosis and treatment initially, her prognosis for survival would have been excellent.

The problem with his advice, she told him, is that while he might do the worrying for his patients, he didn’t do the dying for them.

Being trustworthy is essential for leaders. Knowing whom to trust is often difficult for followers to ascertain. Positions of power and influence imply trustworthiness.

Helping people develop critical thinking skills should be one of our goals as Christian educators. By equipping people with tools to use in evaluating leaders in light of biblical examples like Jeroboam, we give them the confidence to think, speak and act for themselves and confront leaders who insist they trust them without question.

While successful leaders do instill confidence, they don’t demand blind trust or create a false sense of security. They both encourage and respond to critique.

The following articles which recently appeared on EthicsDaily.com contain additional thoughts you can use to generate healthy dialogue in your class:

The Critical Difference Between Critic and Cynic
What Are You Teaching Your People?“.

Jan Turrentine is managing editor of Acacia Resources.

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