This is no surprise to any who know me, but I sometimes slip into cynicism. Though I have worked hard on this over the last decade, and I think I’ve improved (by that I mean I display less cynicism), but I still have work to do.
One of the things that brings out my cynicism the most is Annual Conference (AC). Because this year’s AC begins this Sunday evening, I have been giving thought to both the set of meetings and to my devolution into cynicism.
As I have already shared, I believe I am less cynical, and cynical less often, than I used to be. I spend less time and waste less energy on cynicism than I used to. This may be partly due to learning that as I age, I have less total energy so I want to waste less of it on being cynical.
But I’ve recently considered another possibility.
I think that, at least in my case, cynicism and lack of trust are related. In fact, I am pretty sure they are positively correlated.
In other words, the less I trust a person or institution, the more cynical I am about it.
(I bet I am not the only one.)
If you haven’t worked it through this way, I trust the institution of the Annual Conference, in all it hierarchical and bureaucratic glory, more than I used to.
I don’t yet know if this is because the system has earned my trust, if I have become more trusting, or some combination of the two.
It may even simply be that I have more invested in the system now. I don’t think about retirement often, but even that could be in part due to my expectation that this system wil provide a fitting retirement for me following all my years of service.
My lower levels of cynicism and greater willingness to trust (I want to trust; Lord, help my distrust!) may in fact be due to something else.
I currently serve as pastor of Euless First United Methodist Church. This is the largest church I’ve ever served as pastor. There are many people – many different people. All but one of whom are not me.
As pastor, anything I want to do here, any direction I want to lead, any change I feel led to call for, all relies on my ability to build trust with the congregation.
Maybe I am less cynical because I want people not to be cynical about me.