Several years ago, I was new in a congregation. I noticed a young man asking different people to borrow a dollar. Most people gave him a dollar. I observed this for several weeks. One day this young man asked, “Brother Barber, could I borrow a dollar?”
I replied, “Why do you need it and when will you pay me back?”. When he answered those questions, I told him I had to sign notes when I borrowed money. He was willing. I wrote the details on two 3 x 5 cards: date, amount, 0% interest, and due date. We both signed both copies. He paid me on the agreed date. I signed his note: “Paid in Full,” and dated it.
Several weeks later, he asked to borrow $5.00. After satisfactorily answering the questions of why and when, I loaned him the money. He paid me back at the specified time. After some time, he asked to borrow $10.00. With the same procedure, I loaned him the money. However, the Wednesday night before the due date the following Sunday, he came to me with a distressed look on his face. “Brother Barber, I don’t know what to do. I’ve promised to pay you Sunday and I can’t do it. What can I do?”
“You have done the most responsible thing you can do. You told me before the money was due. When can you pay me?” He answered, “A week from Sunday.” I explained, “All we have to do is change the due date.” I changed the date on both cards. He paid on the adjusted due date.
Several months went by. He asked this time, “May I borrow $20.00?”. After asking “Why” and “When,” I loaned him the money without any worry or doubt. Why? He had been responsible with less. He had showed me what he would do when things didn’t work out the way he had hoped. “He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much” (Luke 16:10, NKJV).
That is my model for developing trust with any person or group. In the beginning, I give only what I can afford to loose. If that works well, I give more. I like to be aware of what happens when things don’t work as planned. I want to watch and learn. What is really happening? Is there consistency? What is the basis for trust? “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). This is the way to develop trust, or to be aware of distrust–depending on the evidence. It is not a service to me or others to give what I can’t afford to lose or to cast my “pearls before lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces” (Matthew 7:6). On the other hand, it is good to be able “to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15). This process of developing and evaluating confidence is helpful in courtship, in considering a preacher or a church, in potential friendship, or in business.