If you’re a regular reader here at the Joshua Collective, you’ve noticed that things have been pretty quiet around here recently. With the arrival of my son, Wesley, I’ve been focused on catching up on my responsibilities at church and being present at home. I’ve got lots of half-written posts in my head and notes in my journal. Slowly, those will find their place to this blog over the next few weeks and hopefully by the end of this month, I’ll find a posting rhythm again. In the meantime, thanks for your patience.
This past Sunday night, I returned to share my first message at Crash after becoming a dad. After showing off some cute baby photos, I launched into a message that I am very passionate about communicating. As a part of our current series, Revolution: Living as an Everyday Missionary, I shared how we can see the Gospel transform us and ultimately transform those around us.
I began the talk with a confession: “Hi, I’m Scott and I’m a cynic.” While I could unpack the whole sermon here (I won’t – you can check it out here), I do want to share some about cyncism.
I’ve written previously about how I believe cynicism is easier than hope. It is easy to poke holes in the errors and faults of others, as one observes from a distance. I’ve spent too much of my life pointing out where others did it wrong. I know I’m not alone in this. I know many of us take advantage of the platforms (Twitter, Facebook, blog, email lists, etc.) that we have at our fingertips and on our touchscreens to highlight the mistakes and inadequacies we observe in those around us.
As I neared the end of my “cynical phase” a couple years ago, I experienced a revelation…
Being a critic is easy; being a creator is hard. Sure, you can say from a distance, “that sucks, and that sucks, and that sucks.” But, how about you do it better? What would you do any differently?
I realized that the challenge in front of all of us is to criticize by creating something new. And if that’s the challenge, many of us – the critics and cynics – are indicted because we aren’t doing anything at all. We’re just criticizing the people who are trying something.
If you check out my talk, you’ll hear how I am seeking to move from critic to creator when comes to sharing my faith and how I urged others to do the same.
The biggest shift for me came when I recognized that cynics don’t change the world. People who create something do. It’s not enough to identify the weaknesses and inadequacies of others effort. It’s not enough to point out the broken systems, the incomplete theologies, the destructive tendencies or the ineffective efforts. Deconstruction is not enough; having ideas is not enough. Ultimately, we have to move from deconstruction to reconstruction and from having ideas to making ideas happen.
If you want to change the world, then leave your cynicism and criticism at the door and join others who are looking to do something to change the future. In that moment, I can promise you that you will have a certain experience. You will discover what it feels like to be the victim of criticism and the effects of someone else’s cynicism. I hope you then experience compassion and empathy for those you formerly spent time vilifying and attacking. They may still be wrong, but as least trying walking in their shoes for a bit.
I’m praying for the brothers and sisters, the cynics and the critics, that we will finally realize that cynics don’t change the world. Join me in abandoning the criticism and joining the revolution to introduce the change that is needed to create a better future.
It’s better that way!