I’ve been reading a book called, “Trust Agents” by Brogan and Smith. The premise of this book is that we can learn to use the power of the Internet and all its tools to influence people honestly and effectively. The authors call for authenticity in a world wide web of ads, façades, and avatars. Their appeal for agents of change and trust is something I admire immensely.
One quote that stood out to me early in the book was that “Trust agents have established themselves as being non-sales-oriented, non-high-pressure marketers. Instead, they are digital natives using the web to be genuine and to humanize their business.”
With this statement, we have clarity as to a Trust Agent’s mode of operation. All we do on the web is to be done in a genuine and humanizing way. I understand how this works for a business, but I have to stop for a second and internalize this for a ministry. Let me use my own life as an example.
I am a pastor. I am also passionate about writing. I am an itinerant speaker. I am a coffee lover and latte-art trainer. I have a blog. So how does all this work together to build trust – not ultimately in me, but in the Savior I serve?
The Trust Agent principles still apply to me as a minister and follower of Christ just as much as (if not more than) a business. I also must not be “Sales-oriented” or “High-pressure” (or “Dogmatic”) in the way that I present the truth. I must not compromise my convictions or the authority of the Bible that I speak from, yet the way I create an audience of trust and a circle of influence must be authentic.
So when it comes to communicating with others over the web (or in the pulpit, at a coffee shop in my office… or wherever) I must allow my “Ethos” to be displayed. This is the unique part of me that God created – no matter how quirky it may be at times. Here are a few things that allow me to be assertive yet authentic with my audiences:
- I trust that I am “Fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14). This is something I still struggle with from time-to-time; it is difficult for me to believe that the mess called “me” is a creative masterpiece by God.
- I live for an audience of one. I have a disease called Image Management; I want to manage my image more than I want to be authentic. This is a carousel of people pleasing that has to be broken in order to allow my ethos to shine through. My primary prescription for people pleasing is to see God as the center of my existence, everything I do is for Him first and foremost.
- I am not afraid to hear the truth. As a Trust Agent, you choose to put yourself out there so others can see the human side of you and your message. As a consequence, you have to be ready to hear what they think about you. Some of it needs to roll of your back; other times you need to be humble enough to hear their words and change as needed. (This one is hard for me).
So when I write about preaching, coffee, and bad days (or whatever), I am doing that to be a “Trust Agent” and show others the power of God’s daily goodness and the Gospel in my life. It is not to sell a product or convince someone of something. My motive is to portray the beauty of the Gospel on the tapestry called my life.
How do you pursue being a “Trust Agent” in your life and ministry?