by Randy Short
Cynicism comes from a lack of trust. Our distrust of politics often causes us to direct our cynicism toward politicians and governmental institutions. Governments are often secretive and less than forthcoming about how tax money is being used. In some cases they are secretive because it is actually being misused, and in other cases because there is a certain power in knowing what others do not know. They may think they know better and that the electorate will never understand their reasoning.
A good and recent example of how lack of transparency creates mistrust is the vice-president’s hunting accident. Why did it take 20 hours for the story to get to the media? They thought they could manage any damage that might be done by holding off. Instead they made it worse than it was by holding back the information.
It is not too different in the home. Secrets kept from children may be proper at times, but when things are affecting mommy and daddy’s relationship, they sense that something is wrong. That sense may turn into sarcasm and even rebellion, in older children, especially.
The same is true in marriage. The man who hides from his wife that things are going terrible at work ends up not hiding anything at all. He tries to protect her but ends up creating a cynical, mistrusting wife who knows something is going on. She senses something. She does not understand and speculates the worse because facts have been kept from her. She becomes sarcastic, and when she finds out that information affecting their home has been kept from her, she becomes cynical. What else could this man be keeping from me?
The same is true in the church. When spiritual guides are less than forthcoming on issues concerning doctrine, money usage, or power struggles, the church senses this lack of information and starts to lose confidence. As the lack of confidence grows, so does the cynicism. In most cases, giving church ministers more of a benefit of a doubt than politicians, there is nothing dishonest going on. They sincerely believe that their secrets protect the church, and maybe even the guides, against recrimination. They believe it is a good thing. It is not. It will ruin the relationship between the guides of a church and its members.
The apostle Paul was honest and transparent when administering money sent by the churches to help others (2 Corinthians 8:18-21).
He seems to be equally forthcoming when it comes to doctrine (Acts 20:20,27). He held back nothing and taught it publicly and from house to house.
In our relationships, the honest answer is like a kiss on the lips (Proverbs 24:26). In the same way a hidden answer is like a slap on the face.
In all of our ways we should avoid duplicity and let integrity guide us (Proverbs 11:3).
Transparency, while against our secretive grain, is the answer.
Randy is a long-term missionary in Recife, a state capital in northeastern Brazil.
When spiritual guides are not transparent, the church starts to lose confidence.