Confessions of a Failed Church Planter: How’s That Cynicism Going?

You know who I love to be around? Optimists. Not the Ned Flanders “Hi-diddly-o there neighborino!”  but those who are full of hope. Those willing to try new things.

You know what I hate to be around? Cynics. Skeptics. Pessimists.

And yet I find myself recently more aligned with the latter, especially the cynical part.

Here’s an expert from a recent book:

“Often, cynicism presents itself as wisdom, but usually comes from a wound. Cynicism acts as though it has seen a lot and knows how the world works… Cynicism points out all the ways something could go wrong, how stupid it is, and what a waste of time it would be. Cynicism holds things at a distance, analyzing and mocking and noting all the possibilities of failure. Often, this is because the cynic did try something new at some point and it went belly up, he was booed off the stage, and that pain causes him to critique and ridicule because there aren’t any risks in doing that. If you hold something at a distance and make fun of it, then it can’t hurt you.”

Man, that’s me.

Ever since closing the Pursuit I’ve been walking around with wounds and the way I’ve tried to heal has been to become a cynic.

And I know cynicism is rampant.

Do you know which of my posts always do the best? The cynical “hot takes”.

Cynicism is a toxic sickness.

Anyone can be a cynic or catch it because cynicism is extremely contagious.

Cynics live without hope and that’s the opposite of what’s at the heart of the Christian faith.

Cynics have:

No hope.

No trust.

No compassion.

What’s left?

The battle then becomes a question of moving from cynic without hope, trust, or compassion and become a person who lives in all three.

Here are two ways I’m fighting my cynicism:

  1. Don’t fight others, just serve. Cynicism thrives where Christians are bored.

I used to tell a story about the church I grew up in. I had a notebook full of things that drove me nuts. Then I got involved. You know what didn’t bother me anymore? Everything in that notebook.

Getting involved in serving others is a great way to move towards compassion and trust. You won’t care about being right as much as you care about loving.

2. Challenge your long-held beliefs. Cynicism loves when you hold onto your beliefs tighter than I held my momma’s hand when I got my head stuck in the railing at the Haunted Mansion as a kid (don’t judge.)

Never stop learning. We were created by God to learn and grow. Listen to those you don’t agree with. Read a book from an author who sees things differently. You don’t have to agree, just learn.

Go back to the Scriptures and try to read them without any preconceptions. Don’t assume you know what it means. Go in fresh. Ask God to speak.

It can bring hope and destroy our cynicism.


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