By Carey Nieuwhof
Cynicism is a sleeper issue. And if you’re not careful, it can take you out or cap your leadership. After 25+ years in leadership, it surprised me to realize I struggled with cynicism.
Take a moment and answer this question: Are you a cynic, an optimist, or a realist?
Very few people would call themselves cynics. Most who are cynics would say they’re realists. I consider myself an optimist. It’s how I’m naturally wired. But regardless of how you’re wired, most people tend to grow more cynical. Why is this so often the case?
I started out in ministry as an optimistic 30-year-old. But after a few years, I started growing more and more cynical. I found myself projecting past failures onto future situations. By the time I reached 40, I was likely 95% cynic and 5% optimist.
Cynicism can creep up on even the best of us. Age and cynicism seem to be frequent companions because cynicism roots itself in knowledge. There’s a reason why kids are often carefree in their activities. They don’t know any better!
And cynicism doesn’t start because you don’t care. Cynicism starts because you do care.
The Antidote to Cynicism
I wrested through the issue of cynicism in my own life. I felt like God called me to take my concrete-encrusted heart and chisel through the hard rock to hope again. To believe again. To trust again. I couldn’t just preach the gospel to those under my leadership. I had to live the gospel myself.
The antidote to cynicism is the gospel. Jesus looks at death and shows resurrection. Jesus looks at hopeless situations and shows hope. If you’re struggling with cynicism right now, reclaim your belief in the foundation of our faith: the gospel itself. Believe again. Hope again. Trust again.
Do these things, and I believe you can reclaim your optimism.
Check out Carey’s exclusive Ministry Grid leadership courses here.