Cynicism in the Ministry

 
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The famous evangelist D. L. Moody was often noted to have prayed the prayer, “Lord, keep me from ever losing the wonder.” I have always wondered (no pun intended) what causes a person in ministry to lose the sense of wonder.

Do you remember the last time you had the sense wonder or awe in light of what God was doing in a person’s life?

There is just something about ministry that can cause people to get cynical very quickly. The American Dictionary defines “cynical” as: 1) Believing or showing the belief that people are motivated chiefly by selfish concerns; skeptical of the motives of others; 2) Selfishly or callously calculating; 3) Negative or pessimistic, as from world-weariness; 4) Expressing jaded or scornful skepticism or negativity.

Ministry takes so much out of us. We are pouring our lives into people. We are making sacrifices in order for people to grow and to experience God’s blessings. We are standing in the gap for people. We are hoping and wanting the best for the people.

Now, you can understand why it is easy to get hurt from doing ministry – whether it is because of unmet expectations or because of lack of tangible fruits – it fuels a sense of disappointment and frustration. We begin to question people’s motives and become more skeptical of their intentions. We become more negative as our jadedness gets expressed in various forms.

For me, I knew my heart was in a bad place when I began to doubt the genuineness of people’s motives for receiving Christ. I began to wonder when they will fall away. God had to humble me and reveal my cynicism for what it was. I could not hide from the ugliness of my heart. I just hated the fact that my heart got to this condition over a period of time.

This is when I realized that my focus was on the wrong things. The more I focused on how people responded and less on Christ, my heart became more cynical. What I needed desperately was more faith. The writer of Hebrews says, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Heb 11:1). Cynicism is the converse of faith. Cynicism is not being sure of what we hope for and not certain of what we see.

Therefore, when we see God work powerfully in a person’s life (what we see), we question it (not certain). We don’t even want to hope for things because we don’t want to get hurt, hence it is just easier to hope for the worst. In Heb 11:6, we are reminded that “without faith it is impossible to please God.”

Our cynicism does not and cannot please God.

Maybe this is the reason why we need to lift up the same prayer that Moody often prayed – “Lord, keep me from ever losing the wonder.” A great sense of wonder with who God is and His works will only fuel our faith and increases our confidence in God. This will reminds us that it is God who is working in the hearts of people and not us. It frees us to worship Him and do ministry with His love.