Hope for your financial life and beyond

The Problem With Infomercials, Televangelists, Mechanics and Pretty Much All of Us

Hidden Nuggets Series #53 – “For there are many insubordinate, both idle talkers and deceivers…whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole households, teaching things which they ought not, for the sake of dishonest gain.” – Titus 1:10-11

man on Ab Roller doing situps

Uuuh…not an affiliate link.

“Just five minutes a day and you can have rock solid abs like this. All it takes is three easy payments of $29.99!” blared the infomercial, waking me from my late-night, post-baseball game dozing. I’ve seen this bit before and like a sucker fell for the Ab-Roller (excuse me…I meant the “Ab-make-every-hot-girl-hang-on-you-roller”) years ago.

Maybe it worked for you. It did nothing for me except hurt my back.

Being Taken by Others

We’ve all been taken or at least felt taken by someone. Like the mechanic who expertly claims the car repair will require a new Johnson rod. Or the televangelist who promises your $100 donation will go to feed orphan children in Romania (when in reality it pays his six-figure salary). And the aforementioned infomercial, promising instant results with so little effort. (Why do we fall for these ridiculous products? LOL)

In reality, we all have an agenda. That agenda, however altruistic it appears, does possess a level of selfishness. We want and do things that benefit ourselves in the long run. Our own self-existence is the foremost thought in our mind. “If others are blessed (or harmed) through what I do then so be it.” So often goes our logic.

Which then makes it really hard to build trust in others.

Like what was happening to Titus, a leader in the early church. His mentor, the missionary Paul, warned him about people – within the church no less – who were teaching incorrect doctrine for their own personal gain. We might expect something like that from a crooked financial adviser. But can you believe that was actually happening in a spiritual setting?

Oh wait, of course you can because we still see it a lot today.

Begin the Testing of Others

So how do we trust when someone’s agenda is not entirely obvious? How do we know they are not withholding information from us? Who can say whether they have our best interests at heart? Is there a test for trust?

The answer lies in the old Russian proverb, which was given new life by President Ronald Reagan as he met with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev at the signing of the INF Treaty of 1987. It states…

“doveryai, no proveryai, – trust, but verify.”

With so many out for dishonest gain, this proverb serves as a standard for building trust in our relationships with others. Even though the words being spoken into our ear seem accurate and reliable, it remains our responsibility to verify their precision and trustworthiness. Failing in this regard leaves us vulnerable to deception, openly naïve and far too trusting.

Building Trust in Others

Verification comes when we consistently see people’s words match their actions. Not once. Not twice. Not a dozen times.

Repeatedly…indefinitely. Trust builds with those speaking into our lives when we see them practice what they preach…over and over and over again. Waver only once and that trust begins to slip.

Is that fair? Probably not. Some people have earned the right to an occasional misstep. But trust in them will be diminished nonetheless when they falter.

Can they ever regain that trust? Absolutely. But it’s going to take some time because the failure will be fresh in our memory banks.

The message today should be clear…be guarded (even and maybe especially with your money.)  Trust is the essence of relationships and pretty much a requirement for daily living. We don’t have to be paranoid about others taking advantage of us – just don’t give our complete trust away so easily. Force others to earn it through their consistent actions.

Have you ever been burned by someone you trusted? Do you think it’s possible to ever fully trust someone? How do you build trust over time? How does trust play into our relationship with God…can He be fully trusted?

Image at Abroller.com

Next Post: Emotions and Investing Don’t Mix

Prior Post: How to Pass the CPA Exam on the First Try

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  1. Even Steven says

    Trust can be broken but it depends on how close the individual is to you. Say your best friend breaks your trust, he will earn it back quickly or he has had your back so many times that you trust right away. When it comes to others including businesses and people you don’t know, trust is lost forever in many cases.

  2. I totally agree. I’ve been taken for a ride more than once in my life. But these days, I am more careful with my money and am glad that I didn’t have to waste a lot of money learning those lessons the hard way.

  3. I trust myself and some people I love. Much stronger for me than a belief in a higher power.

  4. Awesome post, Brian. I’ll be honest, all the things my wife and I have gone through in the past few years have made it difficult to trust God. But as we step back and review things as a whole, we can see all the blessings that have been sprinkled all along the way–“tender mercies” as we like to call them.

    He certainly has an agenda, and it’s often different than ours, but experience has taught me that His is always the better one, providing me with more success and happiness.

    • I like to think of it this way sometimes…God and I have the same agenda, He just hasn’t revealed it to me yet. So I have to trust (wait) for that to happen so the agendas align.

  5. Trust is something that I have learn to nurture selectively over time. I don’t give it easily but when given, it’s done wholeheartedly. I don’t know what to call it except God given discernment but I can spot people who they are truly sincere in their actions or and those that are purely negative opportunists.

    Yes trust can be rebuilt once broken in many instances. It boils down to whether the person who caused the rift is willing to do what it takes to earn the trust back. Then the person who was wronged needs to be able to find a way to move forward, albeit carefully, in order to encourage the rebuilding efforts.

  6. Yes for sure. For me it’s hard to deal with inconsistency…that hot/cold person. Somedays they are going out of their way to be there for you, the next they are throwing you under the bus. I can think to two pretty important people in my life right now who are like that, who I can’t just throw away. Makes it very tough to have any kind of relationship, so I put up kind of a barrier, and think, “proceed with caution,” or very close to what your quote says.

    • I’ve been in multiple situations where I’ve stepped out there too quickly. I may miss some opportunities for being cautious. But I’ll be less exposed and not overextended in what/who I’ve committed to.

  7. My husband worked at a regional airport during grad school and laughed at a local TV evangelist’s very expensive Lear Jet. Clearly donations to him were just lining his pockets…

    But to seize upon the comment prompt at the end – “can God be trusted” – my first blush response was “of course”. And then I realized that I don’t always act like that. I question God’s motives and timing. I question His word and whether something really applies to me, 2,000 years later. I’ve really got to work on trusting Him, as well as proving myself to be trustworthy for His sake.

  8. “Verification comes when we consistently see people’s words match their actions.” So true, Brian. Actions DO speak louder than words, and though we definitely should be guarded, every once in awhile we may have to go out on a limb to gain the trust of someone else.

    • “…every once in awhile we may have to go out on a limb…” Agreed. There is always a starting point for the development of trust. Those can be real nervous times.

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