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“Doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith.”

Dieter F. Uchtdorf


Have you ever been given “the benefit of the doubt”?

Generally, this means to give someone the benefit of the doubt is to believe them even though you may feel skeptical about what they are saying.”

The Free Dictionary says:

“to believe something good about someone, rather than something bad, when you have the possibility of doing either.”

The benefit of the doubt is proactive trust.

Proactive Trust        

This is something we could all use more of.

For the small business owners and entrepreneurs, you need to believe that the people you deal with have good in their hearts if you’re going to weather differences of perspective and opinions that we businesspersons encounter daily.

Trust, unfortunately, is often a chicken-or-egg scenario.

Psychology research tells us that showing people trust first is an incredibly effective way to have trust reciprocated on us.

Harvard professor Jeffrey Polzer calls this process a “vulnerability loop.” For example, when you take a risk by trusting a person, that person is very likely to read that as a sign that they can show you trust.

In other words, when it comes to trust, the egg should come first—if you want to build it quickly, that is.

On the other hand, when trust has not been established and somebody does something we perceive as wrong, it is hard to get a vulnerability loop going. When we perceive that someone is “bad,” we aren’t going to feel comfortable taking a risk on them.

This is where a wise business leader might recommend giving others the “benefit of the doubt.”

Being Charitable

Offering someone the benefit of the doubt is deciding that you won’t assume the worst in them.

Treating someone charitably is deciding to assume the best in them.

This distinction is essential. It’s the difference between action and inaction.

Being charitable means seeking out the kindest explanations and starting there when dealing with people—instead of sitting back neutrally and allowing people to prove themselves. Or worse, treating people as if guilty until proven innocent.

The Bible

To better understand how to be charitable in relationships when giving the benefit of the doubt, it is helpful to turn to the Bible.

The Bible provides three pathways to understanding what is like to be charitable.

  1. Speak Slowly, Thoughtfully, and Kindly

Being a thoughtful Christian means learning to think well and to think Christianly.  Both thinking well and thinking Christianly are about the intentional way we process ideas, issues, and information consistently.

Psalm 8:3-4 says.

When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,

The moon and the stars, which You have ordained;

What is man that You take thought of him,

And the son of man that You care for him?

  1. Be Patient With the Shortcomings of Others


When everything is going our way, patience is easy to demonstrate. The true test of patience comes when our rights are violated—when we refuse to give the benefit of the doubt or be given the benefit of the doubt.

Some people think they have a right to get upset in the face of irritations and trials. We begin to doubt others. The Bible, however, praises patience as a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22) which is produced for all followers of Christ (1 Thessalonians 5:14). Patience reveals our faith in God’s timing, omnipotence, and love.

  1. Allow God’s Grace to Work in His Time


The first thing we need to understand about God’s timing is that it is perfect, just as all of God’s ways are perfect.  Psalm 18:30 says.


This God—his way is perfect;[a]
the word of the Lord proves true;
he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.


Our ability to wait on the Lord is largely related to how much we trust Him. When we trust in God with all of our heart, forgoing reliance on our own, often erroneous understanding of circumstances, He will indeed give us direction.  When we need to provide charity, it is through God’s timing that we rely.


Giving the benefit of the doubt is an act of charity. 

And charity is a gift of God. So be charitable and take the first step, and trust other people first. More often than not, you will be rewarded, and your business will prosper.