For years I have preached and taught about trusting God. As a pastor and evangelist I felt it was one of the strongest parts of my faith. Several years ago, while praying for God to take me to the next level, I felt the Lord speak to me and say, "Trust me." I have to admit that I was perplexed. I felt that I trusted the Lord so I continued to pray and inform God that I did trust Him. Again, I felt the voice of the Lord speak to me and say, "Trust me." In a state of frustration I cried out to the Lord and said, "I DO trust you!" Little did I know that over the next couple of years everything that I held dear to me would be shaken to its very core. My family, my faith, my self-esteem all were about to be shaken and I was not prepared for it. I quickly realized that what I had been calling trust in God was really just trust in myself.
We tend to look at trust as very black and white, you either trust or you don’t. But I have since found out that it is way more complicated than that. In Robert Conley's article The Three Levels of Trust, he calls this out by naming and defining each level.
The first level is deterrence-based trust, or “rules-based” trust. This is the most fundamental, base level of trust. The logical side of us loves this kind of trust because it makes sense. For example, if I work at my job all week, I will get a paycheck that I can use to support my family. This level has direct cause and effect. As a Christian we believe that if we pray, God will move. While this is accurate in most cases, it is not always because God operates on all three levels of trust and he expects us to do the same. This type of trust is usually found in a new or young Christians and is fragile because it is more self-based. I trust as long as I agree with the outcome.
The second level of trust is knowledge-based trust. This level of trust means that I’ve had enough experience with someone that I feel I know the outcome based on my request and our history. Knowledge-based trust builds up over a period of time and establishes expected outcomes for various actions and situations that happen in our life. Because this is less defined than deterrence-based trust, this trust has the ability to blend through the trials in our life as we begin to realize that there is a greater plan than just what is happening right now. We begin to yield to God's Will versus our own. This type of trust is usually found in seasoned Christians.
The third level is identity-based trust. This is the ultimate level of trust that we as Christians can have because it takes our desires, our will out of the equation as we identify completely with God, His will, desires and purpose. It is no longer about us it is all about Him. At this level we see our trials as part of His plan and that give us victory even in the midst of chaos. This is the level the Psalmist was referring to in Psalms 56:3 when he said, "When I am afraid, I put my trust in you." He was saying that God was in control regardless of the situation. This level of trust is very hard for most Christians to achieve. However, when asked, most Christians would say that they are already at this level. In reality, it is very difficult to yield everything to someone else, in this case to God. This was the exact argument I was having with God in prayer that day. He was saying to trust Him and I felt that I did trust him. God was challenging me to move from level two trust, knowledge-based trust, to level three trust, where His identity became my identity.
Over the next few weeks in this blog series, I will be exploring how to achieve identity-based trust. Please subscribe and share!