Trust is one of the most important qualities of a Christ-centered leader. When you are trusted, you are able to develop healthy relationships, which help you collaborate, communicate, and innovate. It starts with who you are. If you don’t trust others, you are not going to build trust with others.
Trust means that you are authentic, transparent, and reliable. The question is, who is the source of your trust? Trust means you establish clear expectations, and you follow through on your commitments. It means that you are who you say you are by how you live your life and interact with those entrusted to your care.
With that in mind, who do you trust?
The Source of Trust
A quick look at Jesus on the cross reveals the source of his trust. In Luke’s story, while Jesus is on the cross, he does not pray for clarity, he prays a prayer for trust.
The death of Jesus occupies six verses in one small paragraph. In the middle of that paragraph, Jesus prays, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” It is a prayer of trust. It is not a story that evokes an emotional response like, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” It is not a story where you feel bad for Jesus like, “I thirst”. It is a story of Jesus trusting his life to God.
In Luke, there are two prayers. We have examined one of those prayers, “Father, forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing.” Let’s use the pattern of Read, Reflect, Respond, Return to explore what we might learn about trust.
Read Luke 23:44-49
“It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, while the sun’s light failed, and the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, ‘Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.’ Having said this, he breathed his last. When the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God and said, ‘Certainly this man was innocent.’ And when all the crowds who had gathered there for this spectacle saw what had taken place, they returned home, beating their breasts. But all his acquaintances, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.”
“Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit,” Luke 23:46
While on the cross, Jesus prays a prayer of trust. Jesus knew the comfort and affirmation of the scripture. He is praying a Psalm, “Into your hands I commit my Spirit” (Psalm 31:5). His prayer shows no distance or pain in relationship to God. It is not a prayer of resignation or defeat. It reveals to us who Jesus is and who he trusts.
Jesus and Prayer
Luke has Jesus praying from the time he is baptized to the time he ascends to heaven. Jesus is not surprised by life but is prepared for life. In Luke’s story, Jesus is conceived by the Holy Spirit. After he is baptized, while he is praying, the Holy Spirit descends upon him. The Holy Spirit leads him into the wilderness to pray. It is in these moments of prayer Jesus is checking his trust of God’s direction for his life.
In his sermon in Nazareth, Jesus quotes the prophet Isaiah, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, he has anointed me…” In Luke, Jesus not only possesses the Holy Spirit but promises the Holy Spirit to his followers. So, in The Acts of the Apostles, we witness how the Holy Spirit at work in Jesus lives and works in and through the church.
Jesus and the Holy Spirit
Spirit is important to Luke. So, in this prayer, “spirit” simply means “breath,” or “life.” “Father, into your hands I commit my life.” Luke replaces the despairing cry of Psalm 22:1, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” with quiet confidence and trust. Just as Jesus’ prayer of forgiveness, “Father forgive them…” becomes a model for his followers, so his dying prayer of trust in God becomes a model. The same prayer is prayed by Stephen at his death (Acts 7:59).
According to Luke, not only the way Jesus lived but the way he died brought glory to God. The soldier at the cross says, “Certainly, this man was innocent.” With those words, Luke is saying that even Rome recognizes that Jesus’ death was a great injustice, that in executing Jesus they killed an innocent man. This is a theme Luke carries throughout his gospel as well as The Acts of the Apostles.
Stand at the Cross to Understand Easter
I find it interesting that Luke does not rush to the joy of Easter morning. For Luke, Easter can only be grasped by those who have stood at the cross and reflected upon their own involvement in the sins of humanity that have led to the rejection of God’s revelation in Jesus.
Just as the tax collector, who lamented and beat his chest in repentance, did not presume that he would go home justified, neither did the mourners at the crucifixion anticipate the resurrection. As you read Luke’s good news, over and over again, grace can only be amazing grace.
In quiet trust and confidence, Jesus commits his life into the hands of God. From his baptism to his decision to go to the cross, from his teaching about his death to the misunderstanding of who he was as the Christ, from teaching his followers to pray to forgive those who intentionally turned their backs on God’s love, in quiet trust and confidence Jesus prays.
As he commits his life into God’s hands, his witness continues, “Certainly this man was innocent.” So, Jesus prays, “Father, into your hands I commit my Spirit.”
Brennan Manning, in his book, Ruthless Trust tells the following: When ethicist John Kavanaugh went to work for three months at “the house of the dying” in Calcutta, he was seeking a clear answer as to how best to spend the rest of his life. On the first morning there he met Mother Teresa. She asked, “And what can I do for you?” Kavanaugh asked her to pray for him.
“What do you want me to pray for?” she asked.
He voiced the request that he had borne thousands of miles from the United States: “Pray that I have clarity.”
She said firmly, “No, I will not do that.”
When he asked her why, she said, “Clarity is the last thing you are clinging to and must let go of.”
Praying for Trust
When Kavanaugh commented that she always seemed to have the clarity he longed for, she laughed and said, “I have never had clarity; what I have always had is trust. So, I will pray that you trust God.”
Jesus prayed to keep his focus on God. After ministering to the crowds, he would go into the wilderness, a lonely place, to pray. His prayer life was not only to keep him focused on God but to keep his trust in God.
As a Christ-centered leader, it is important that you not only develop trust but that you learn to trust. Trust, defined as a belief in the abilities, integrity, and character of another person, is thought of as something that personal relationships are built on. And even more than that, according to recent research in Harvard Business Review, trust is the foundation of most successful organizations.
As the leader, you set the tone for trust. By recognizing the potential in others and helping develop that potential, you are developing trust in others as they learn to trust you.
The fundamental question regarding leadership and trust is, as a leader “who do you trust?’ Remember, who you are is how you lead.
Give God thanks for the people you met today. How does Jesus’ prayer model trust for you?
- In what areas of your life do you trust God?
- In what areas are you having difficulty trusting God?
- How are you assisting others in trusting God’s direction for their lives?
- What will you do differently tomorrow as a leader who trusts God’s direction for your life?
Give God thanks for the opportunities you had to love others as you have been loved. Ask God to give you the faith to live and lead with quiet trust and confidence.
O God, into your hands I offer my life. By your grace, give me the trust I need to become the leader you need for this time and place. Amen