Buddy was cutting my hair while the owner of the barbershop was giving a twenty-year-old young man a haircut. The man’s wife and six-month-old baby were watching “daddy” get a major overhaul. There was some teasing going on as six inches worth of hair was being moved from his head to the floor.

Blake, the barbershop owner, has had this shop for many years. I suppose when you stand there all day cutting hair, you find ways to make time a little more enjoyable. Blake had just put shaving cream around the young man’s ears and on his neck. Then, with a straight razor in his hand, Blake pointed at the wife and asked her husband, “Do you trust your wife?” This question not only peaked my curiosity, but I saw that she quit bouncing the baby, becoming quite interested in what her husband was going to say.

The husband thought just a moment and said, “I sure do!” With that admirable reply, his wife smiled, put a kiss on the baby, and began bouncing him again.

On hearing the words Blake was hoping for, he held out the straight razor to her and said, “Great! Come on over here and shave around his ears with this.”

I’m not sure I can adequately describe the emotions that husband and wife began to exhibit. Both of them were repeatedly saying, “No!” with enough zeal that Blake was feeling very rewarded.

After the couple relaxed again, Blake said he recently did the same thing to a couple about to be married. The groom-to-be had answered, “I’d trust her with my life.” (Good answer, if true.) However, when Blake tightened the noose that the groom-to-be had just stepped into, the future bride saw her “prince charming” do such a U-turn that she was crushed. Blake chuckled with a little satisfaction as he said, “It really turned into quite a squabble.”

Trust is an amazing thing. It is the foundation for the depth of a relationship. You can have a relationship without love, but if there is no trust, then there is no real relationship. Merriam-Webster defines trust as: “assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something, one in which confidence is placed.” The more we trust someone, the more open we will be with him and the closer the relationship becomes. David trusted Jonathan and shared information that could have cost David his life if Jonathan had betrayed that trust by telling his father, Saul. That was an example of a friendship between two young men that had a deeper level of trust than the relationship between the son and his father. How sad, and yet that is common today, even in Christian homes.

As the straight razor in my barbershop story put into perspective, trust is only a word until it is tested. David’s trust in Jonathan wasn’t meaningful until Jonathan proved he could be trusted. Our children’s trust in us is a measure of our trustworthiness through the years. We need to guard it zealously.

The issue of whether my children trust me is critical to my effectiveness as a parent. What is their level of confidence in me? A little child initially has deep trust in his parents, but often as he grows that trust is eroded. This can happen throughout childhood, as the child perceives that his parents are making some bad decisions. “Then said Jonathan, My father hath troubled the land: see, I pray you, how mine eyes have been enlightened, because I tasted a little of this honey” (1 Samuel 14:29). With the strength of Jonathan’s criticism of his father, this was obviously not the first time that Jonathan felt his father, the king, had made a wrong decision. Likely, he had watched his father’s pride lead him to make many other bad decisions.

There are times we, as dads, make bad decisions. There may be other times when we make the best decision, but our children’s understanding is not sufficient to see the decision properly. When this is the case we receive “credit” for a bad decision.

This is one reason I choose to have a weekly private meeting with each of my older children (eleven and up). I cherish that time on Sunday while lunch is being prepared and then cleaned up. The time I meet with each child varies according to what we have to discuss. It has proved to be critical in maintaining and deepening their trust in me. We discuss decisions that have been made and why they were made that way. It gives the child a chance to understand why I did what I did and why I felt the Lord leading in that direction. There also have been times when I confessed to them that I made a wrong decision and asked their forgiveness if it affected them. That way they are able to see that dad can make mistakes, but when he does, he makes it right with them. Both situations are so very important in ensuring confidence in me.

In the area of trust, think about what our poor wives go through. You and I know that no wife would make every decision perfectly if she was responsible for making the decisions. However, there are times when she would have made the correct choice, when her husband made the wrong one. Even if she doesn’t remember the times when she would have chosen wrong, she is likely to remember the times when she was right.

If any wife had reason to distrust her husband, it was Sarah. Abraham betrayed her twice out of concern for his own safety (Genesis 12:11, 20:2). Twice! Yet, she did not rebel against Abraham’s leadership and appeared to continue to trust him (1 Peter 3). She was commended for her faith in God in Hebrews 11, and that is probably the secret of her confidence in Abraham. (All moms would likely learn a powerful lesson in how to have faith in a husband, and that is by trusting in their Lord.)

A wife’s trust in her husband is to be treasured. Husbands can easily damage that trust, and it is difficult to regain. Frequently, we hear of a mom who has discovered her husband is into pornography. Why does it hurt a wife so badly? It is because porn is mental adultery. The husband into pornography or lusting after other women “drives a knife” into his wife’s heart, and she cannot trust him. She knows her husband is driven by lust and therefore can’t be trusted. Once an adulterer, will he ever really stop, and to what lengths will he go?

Repentance is the only way to begin rebuilding trust. The father who reacts defensively when questioned by his wife has not repented. He is only sorry he got caught. But the man who truly hates his sin, is repentant, and wants to change will accept any boundaries and accountability necessary. A man who is repentant will embrace boundaries as an opportunity to show those who love him he realizes his sin. He will gladly avoid all appearances of evil. He will be willing to spend the rest of his life trying to rebuild what he does not deserve. What do you think? Was the young man showing prudence in not letting his wife use the razor, or did he simply not trust her? I believe he didn’t trust her. If he had, he would have thought, “I trust that she loves me so much she wouldn’t do anything to hurt me. I believe that if she doesn’t have the skill to use that razor, then she won’t, because she doesn’t want to take a chance of cutting me.” In the same way, do we love our families so much that we choose to do nothing that may hurt them?

Trust is priceless. Do you want the hearts of your family members? It isn’t possible without trust. Have you damaged trust? Be committed to rebuilding it. We can’t demand it, but we must covet it and seek to always build it.