In 1987 I took a man into my confidence. He was a member of a church about an hour away and offered to lead a workshop where I served as associate pastor. The class was about parent and youth communication and I was pleased with what he taught and how well it was received.
When the class was over, we visited over snacks. He said, “Wally, you should take your youth group on a ski trip. I’ve been on a few; I’d be glad to help you plan it, and I could even go with you.” That was the first time I considered using a ski trip to form a community of youth.
During the decade between his suggestion and the first of our three annual trips, that man served time for a sex crime. As I attended my first Boundary Training Class for church leaders, his offer to go on a trip with our youth echoed in my ears all day. Was he being helpful or predatory? Was he worthy of my confidence or was he a confidence man? How do I trust but verify the behavior of others? How do I best protect myself and those entrusted to my care?
Experience gives me confidence that one betrayal of trust can have horrific ramifications for persons within a community. As a church, we set many boundaries to protect children, youth, and the adults who care for them. When questions arise about why we need protection policies in a church, my mind wanders to what might have occurred. My mouth says, “we set limits to have the freedom to grow in faith in safety.”
Who are the people who have lived up to the confidence you have in them? How have you reacted to being betrayed by another? Where do you go for help when you’ve been hurt?