When I was in Haiti a couple of weeks ago, the local people kept their distance from my team at first but warmed up to us as the week passed. We originally thought it was shyness, especially on the part of the children, but later we were told that not all groups that come to Haiti come with the best benefit of the Haitians in mind. Many come with a superior attitude, which comes across even when not expressed in words.
In a word, they didn’t trust us when we first arrived.
Trust – a function of character
Stephen M. R. Covey, in his book The Speed of Trust, talks about character and breaks it down into integrity (walking your talk) and intent (having motives of mutual benefit).
It seems to me that Mr. Covey enjoys breaking concepts into small pieces. He has further divided integrity into courage – when you don’t let fear stop you from taking action, humility – when you put others first, and congruence – when your words and your actions are in alignment.
He also divided intent into motive – our goals, agenda – how we intend to achieve those goals, and behavior – the actions we take to achieve those goals. I think this is where the mission team excelled; we had one goal – to serve the missionaries and the local churches.
Happily, in watching my team, I saw the members display all of these characteristics:
- Courage – for some of our team members, this was their first time leaving the US or being in such a rural, underdeveloped region; it took great courage to step out and join the team. I was very proud of how the team accepted the rustic conditions.
- Humility – the team went with the purpose of serving the missionaries and the local pastors, not of imposing our own view of how things should be done.
- Congruence – we not only purposed but also enacted an attitude of service.
- Motive – we were there, not to exploit the local Haitians but to do what was asked of us.
- Agenda – we intentionally did not come with our own agenda but tied our activities to our local contact’s agenda for us.
- Behavior – we embraced the agenda provided for us and put all our effort into doing an excellent job.
It was only through observing our intentions through how we interacted with them that the Haitians were able to trust us. By the end of the week, we had formed some wonderful relationships despite the language barrier, in large part due to the team living out a high standard of character.
What about home?
Often, it is easier to put on your best behavior when you know you are on mission for a short period of time. The real test comes in the mundane, everyday situations we all face.
With every situation, we always have a choice – will we be intentional in choosing the way that benefits all, or will we choose the way that only benefits ourselves?
Nothing changes by accident. If you would like to make some intentional changes in your relationships at home and work, I would like to invite you to participate in a free 7-day experiment in intentional living, hosted by John Maxwell. Click here to get started!
The Speed of Trust, by Stephen M. R. Covey with Rebecca R. Merrill