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The roots of doubt run deep in the Christian story. Thomas is the most renowned doubter in Christian history, touching the wounds of Christ to prove (to himself) the truth of the resurrection. But Peter nearly drowned from his own doubt when walking on water with Jesus.  

Peter walking on the water

Doubt is rooted in reason, emotion, and our deepest spiritual yearnings. It can cause confusion, embarrassment, shame, pride, and resistance. Doubt emerges across all aspects of our lives, whether we admit it or not.  

In our theological schools, we experience doubt on many levels. We question the strategic  directions of our organizations; our interpretations of the marketplaces in which our schools operate; and the abilities of our staff, faculty, administration, and board. And when we second-guess certain aspects of our corporate life, we often act like either Thomas or Peter.  

  • Doubting like Thomas. In many cases, we try to alleviate our doubt by seeking more evidence about a situation or a pending decision. While usually well intentioned, an excess of evidence can hinder timely decision-making, resulting in "paralysis by analysis." And evidence isn't what it used to be: we know today that "proof" is always open to interpretation. That means we make decisions based on incomplete evidence -- decisions that account for but do not eradicate our doubts.  
  • Doubting like Peter. Like Peter, we sometimes lose faith in our institutions and begin to sink into the darkness of our emotional and spiritual waters. In these cases, it is natural to reach out to those in authority -- presidents, rectors, deans or board chairs -- for stability and reassurance. Ronald Heifetz calls this the "flight to authority," which usually prevents progress toward organizational learning and adaptive change. The wisdom in leadership is knowing when to offer a helping hand and when to let others work through their own doubt.

The theologian Paul Tillich famously wrote, "Doubt is not the opposite of faith; it is one element of faith." With Tillich, we must recognize that doubt is part of our organizational lives. We must learn to recognize it -- at times, to embrace it -- and deal with it appropriately.


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The In Trust Center hosts learning community spaces throughout the year. Check out our upcoming events below.

I See That Hand


Board members are typically recruited for their leadership, business acumen, and networks. Dr. Rebekah Basinger, project director of the In Trust Center’s Wise Stewards Initiative, will discuss how strategic questioning and interrogation skills are essential for effective board stewardship.

Strategic Partnerships in Higher Education


In this on-demand webinar, Rick Staisloff, senior partner of rpk GROUP, discusses essential aspects of strategic partnerships. This session delves into current trends, identification of partners, navigating the due diligence process, and common challenges.

Closing the Trust Gap


The current and very troubling condition of trust is a clarion call to action. But despite the dismal data showing pervasive organizational distrust, every organization can assess their current level of trust, learn and adopt a proven trust building framework, and then develop a meaningful and long-lasting plan of action. This webinar details the knowledge and practical next steps to strengthen workplace culture as a result of closing the trust gap.

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