Two Ways To Avoid Becoming a Cynic

There's a good reason why people become more cynical with age and why young people are more idealistic. EXPERIENCE. 

For example, if a contractor starts a job for a young person, say laying sod, and then doesn't show up for three days, the young person doesn't know what to think. And in their idealism, they are very forgiving. They do not yet have enough experience to understand what just happened.

The more "experienced" person, however, knows that "start and delay" is a frequently used tactic by many over-booked contractors to lock in jobs. In other words, they know it's just more hassle for you to change contractors in the middle of the job than work with the one dragging his feet.

The same thing happens when interviewees overstate their qualifications for a job, or employers overstate how great it is to work there, when a politician makes a promise they don't have the power to keep, or a company sells a product they won't service properly.

So after many repetitions of this cycle, we start to get cynical. All of us. No matter how old we are!

But that doesn't have to be the end of it. We can build a more realistic set of expectations about people. About how unpredictable they can and will be. And yes, deceitful.

I called this process "managing against the Fall." Sure. Love people and hope they will keep their promises. But always have a way to hold people accountable or walk away. President Reagan called this "trust but verify."

Our idealism will inevitably shrink over time, but here are two ideas to help us end up as a realists rather than cynics...

1. Forgive the one who sins against you. Always. That's a Jesus thing.

2. Don't put yourself in a position where you to forgive.

For example, for a good-sized job, never pay "in full" up front (a deposit is OK for a reputable firm). And never, ever make the final payment until they are "done done" (as in, once you hand them the check you're OK for them to drive away in their truck and never return). That's not cynical. That's just realistic.

And check those references and, if available, those google ratings.


How a Man Can Feel More Alive This Week

If you know the answers to the following questions, you will feel a surge of meaning, purpose, and direction. Even if your circumstances are out of whack and you're under a lot of pressure. 

Who am I? (Identity)

Why do I exist? (Purpose)

What am I supposed to do? (Calling, Mission)

How do I do it? (Plan, Goals, Strategy)

If you DON'T feel excited about the direction of your life today, spend a few minutes reflecting on these questions. 

I feel so much more alive when I think about such things. 

What To Say When You See Something You Don't Like

The difference between a biblical Christian and a cultural Christian is not that they think different thoughts when they see something they don't like.

The difference between a biblical Christian and a cultural Christian is that a biblical Christian doesn't say the first thing that comes to mind.

"A man of knowledge uses words with restraint" (Proverbs 17:27). "When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise" (Proverbs 10:19). "He who answers before listening - that is his folly and shame" (Proverbs 18:13).

What is your agenda for other people?

Some of us are trying to help other people buy into our agendas. 

Some of us are trying to help other people achieve their agendas.

Some of us are trying to help other people discover God's purpose and plan for their lives, and order their priorities around His agenda.

It's easy to get these mixed up, isn't it? 

Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner, for trying to get people to do what I want them to do – my agenda – instead of inspiring them with what you want them to do – your agenda. Amen.

A Group and a Bible Will Solve 90% of Your Problems

A man from Africa wanted to know about a money question. A man from Alabama wanted to ask about a purpose and work issue. A man from Alaska wanted to know, "How can I make my marriage work?"

Whenever a man from another city contacts me with a problem, one of the first questions I  ask is, “Are you part of a small group of guys doing life together? It could be in a couples group where guys occasionally meet off to themselves, or in a men only group?”

And the response is almost always the same, "Why do you ask?"

I ask because I’ve discovered that when men ARE part of group, these questions rarely make it to my desk.

In fact, I estimate that 90% of all men’s problems could easily be solved if men would regularly read their Bibles for themselves and do life together with a few other men in a small group.

Yes, it's that simple. Really.

The Words That Matter Most, Elvis, and Andrew Carnegie

We hear it all the time: "Words matter." And of course, that's true. But so do actions.

Andrew Carnegie put it like this, "As I grow older, I pay less attention to what men say. I just watch what they do."

It's hard to trust someone who repetitively doesn't follow through on what they say. 

So better not to say anything at all unless we really plan to follow through. Proverbs 10:19 says, "When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise."

Whether we're a husband, father, boss, laborer, pastor, teacher, coach, or political leader, the words that matter most are the ones we back up with actions. 

Reputations rise and fall on whether or not we "keep" or words. As Elvis Presley pleaded, "A little less conversation, a little more action please."