When it comes to trust, I think people put a lot of weight on credibility and intimacy, and we certainly factor reliability over time. A credible person not only has the credentials, they display competence. A safe person keeps a proper confidence, listens well, and allows for vulnerability. And the reliable person consistently comes through on time, under budget, and with high quality.
But self-orientation is the one we keep in the background, both in how we evaluate ourselves and in how we evaluate those we work alongside. I might rephrase the description above and instead couch self-orientation in terms of shared or common interests, rather than mine or theirs.
I think human beings do make decisions and take action based on self-interest. I think growing and mature persons are aware of the ways their own self-interest is in play. I think respectable and wise leaders are understanding of the interests of others they work with and alongside, and they are cognizant of the ways personal and organizational interests align when moving toward a goal. Furthermore, they have reached a point of maturity where the interests of the other, and others, are considered more important than one’s own self-interest. They are willing and able to put self aside to serve. That’s easier said than done.
In Philippians 2:1-4, Paul writes:
Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
Paul then goes on to cite the example of Jesus in the rest of the chapter, not only as one to follow, but as the theological justification for the dynamics that are in play in healthy Christian communities.
In Christian communities, trust is not only built through displays of credibility, reliability, and intimacy, but also by an orientation toward Christ and the kingdom of God and the seeking of God’s glory. If that’s a shared focus, good things happen, and we not only learn to trust one another, but to trust God’s leadership, guidance, and work within and among the community. As a result, we elevate the trustworthiness of people and we learn through experience the trustworthiness of God.