Someone once said, “Life would be easy if people weren’t so dumb!”
As acknowledged in a previous post (found here), I’m far from perfect and living around a bunch of people who are less than too.
It’s a human thing.
It’s also frustrating.
And that exasperation with our human condition often leads to a nasty case of cynicism. We don’t trust people. We think everyone is selfish, mean and stupid. (Everyone but us, of course.)
Sadly, cynicism spreads through our soul like a virus, causing negativism that often leads to discouragement.
People suck. My job and boss suck. My church sucks. The world sucks! So I’m just going to crawl into a hole and die!
For the record, cynicism is a problem because this soul virus is contagious and rarely leads to any meaningful change in us or in others.
Many years ago, my pastor at the time, Roy Hicks Jr., was asked at a pastors’ gathering, “What do you consider your greatest success?” He was the pastor of a megachurch before there were many megas. He’d also written a worship song (Praise the Name of Jesus) that was known worldwide.
I thought Roy would point to something amazing like the size and impact of his church, Faith Center. Instead, without hesitation, he said, “My greatest success is that I haven’t grown cynical in my leadership.”
As a 20-something pastor, I thought that was the dumbest answer ever! As a 60-something pastor today, I get it.
It’s easy, too easy, to go through life’s trials and the many challenges of living with a planet full of broken and critical people and to get mad—or worse—to give up.
I love history, and I especially enjoy reading the biographies of great men and women. One of the things I’ve noticed is how people like Abraham Lincoln, Hellen Keller, Mother Teresa and Martin Luther King Jr. always found a way to stay the course.
They didn’t wallow in misery.
They didn’t throw their hands up in disgust.
They didn’t get consumed by the negative.
They chose to believe that change was possible no matter how dark the road or how large the struggle before them.
In today’s world, I’m afraid it’s easy to focus on all that’s wrong, broken and evil while forgetting that God wants you and me to be change agents.
Our challenge is to be salt and light. Meaning a seasoning that flavors for good and a glowing beacon that shows people a better way—God’s way.
Cynicism is more like too much cayenne pepper because it burns. And it’s like a smothering darkness because it blinds rather than illuminates.
It won’t be easy, but guard your heart, and don’t become a cynic.
Change is possible, and it starts with you.
Who in your community is understanding and wise? Let his example, which is marked by wisdom and gentleness, blaze a trail for others. – JAMES 3:13 (VOICE)
This article originally appeared here.