Cynicism and dirty hands

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I’m currently on the cusp of a great new adventure, and as with most times of transitions in our lives, I think it’s a great time to reflect on some things and set some goals for the future. One thing that I’ve been thinking of specifically is how furthering my education will sharpen me as a critical thinker, but I’m praying it doesn’t stop there.

Critical thinking is a great skill. The ability to look at something from multiple angles and identify areas of weakness and inconsistency is important. It is one of the first steps of many in leading people. Most post-secondary institutions have a reputation of developing critical thinkers, and that’s a good thing most of the time. It can become troubling when we don’t move past it though.

The internet seems to be full of critical thinkers – people who analyze and critique (often correctly) just about everything. Christians seem to be getting really good at this, or at least writing a lot of blogs about things they’ve critically thought about (and yes, I see the irony). Moving beyond critical thinking and getting your hands dirty fixing the problems is hard work, and many aren’t willing to dig in and do it or just don’t know how. With the access to facts that we have today, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and just become a critic. We’re not just thinking beings though, we’re whole people.

I’m glad I’ve taken seven years in full time church ministry between my undergrad at Briercrest and my upcoming Masters at Regent. I’ve learned a lot in these years, and I’m a very different kind of critical thinker than I was when I left bible college. I think that I love the church more, even though I see more challenges and things to improve than I did before. I get why many who leave bible college or one year programs like YWAM struggle to reintegrate after a season of intense community and learning.

Cynicism is easy. Being a critic always feels good because you can see things that other people miss and hold the “right” answers over them. Digging in and working towards fixing the problems – that’s where I hope I can keep learning and developing. We’re made as holistic people, and our God is an incarnation God. He came to be with us and get his hands dirty, not just tell us what we’re doing wrong (and that would have been a long list). Seeing the problems and working hard towards helping others and bettering things is what we need to do. That’s why I’m praying that this period in my life of developing my mind as a critical thinker also inspires my hands and feet to do the hard work of not only critiquing, but making better. Christ will build his church, and I think everyone who follows him should have a growing love of jumping on board and getting their hands dirty in whatever way they can.

1 Comment

  1. Brad Keim

    I wonder if the tension is between the necessary pairing of orthodoxy and orthopraxy. I think one is light and the other heat; both thinking and doing/feeling?