How to avoid cynicism and distrust of people

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
I have grown cynical and jaded with people. And distrustful. It gets worse with age. Any advice for trying to think well of people? My mind knows my duties; but it is hard to "feel" or "own" those duties.

EDIT: I will beat some of you to the punch. Yes, I do often contemplate that others also deal patiently with my own weaknesses and forgive my own shortcomings, so I should deal with theirs gently as well.
 

arapahoepark

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Just bumping this because I too struggle (?) with this. I am not sure it's all bad to not trust people right away or if you have a gut feeling but, it can be unhealthy.
 

RaderSDG00

Puritan Board Freshman
I am the same, but is this really wrong? Every fallen human being on this Earth operates supremely from a principle of self-love, and so, wouldn't it be naive to simply trust people blindly? And even for those whom God has redeemed, whose supreme love is God, if they are not upheld by shear grace, can just as easily and instantaneously fall back into that pernicious self-love, as Peter did, and so lose their trustworthiness. In order to determine whether you should trust someone or not, surely you must try to understand their supreme motive, either love to self, or love to God?

I do not feel obliged to think well of people because it is not well with people. What I am called to do is love God and love my neighbor as myself. And so, even if I regard a certain persons word as worth less than dirt, and see past their malevolence, under the guise of benevolence, yet surely I am called to see myself in them, as the exact same, if not for the Grace of God. And then to use the realization of that longsuffering grace to offer them my burning coals, hoping and praying that in due time God may so use it to perhaps draw them to himself. Are they untrustworthy, because they are wont to lie? Yes. But have I often lied and been untrustworthy? Absolutely. Both lawbreakers, guilty of the same. The answer is not in their occasional patience with me, as if my patience with them becomes a matter of a zero-sum game, but to see it in light of God's patience with me, even as Paul did, "But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life." 1 Timothy 1:16

Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? Rom.2:4

With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love... Eph. 4:2

Love is patient and kind... 1 Cor 13:4

Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience... Col. 3:12


I recently read John G. Paton's autobiography, and there was a section in there, wherein he showcased a most marvelous conversion, of one of the most notoriously wicked and deceitful islanders, who had long terrorized them, but who was converted due in large part to their own Christ-like patience and charitableness that they had shown him . Here is a short snippet of it:

"So they began to show him every possible kindness, and one after another helped him in his daily tasks, embracing every opportunity of pleading with him to yield to Jesus and take the new path of life. At first he repelled them, and sullenly held aloof. But their prayers never ceased, and their patient affections continued to grow. At last, after long waiting, Nasi broke down, and cried to one of the Teachers, "I can oppose your Jesus no longer. If He can make you treat me like that, I yield myself to Him and to you. I want Him to change me too. I want a heart like that of Jesus." pg. 413

May the Lord help us all to attain unto the same.
 

C. M. Sheffield

Puritan Board Graduate
I have grown cynical and jaded with people. And distrustful. It gets worse with age. Any advice for trying to think well of people? My mind knows my duties; but it is hard to "feel" or "own" those duties.

EDIT: I will beat some of you to the punch. Yes, I do often contemplate that others also deal patiently with my own weaknesses and forgive my own shortcomings, so I should deal with theirs gently as well.
It is hard. The struggle is real. May the Lord Jesus teach us what it means to be "wise as serpents, and harmless as doves." (Matt. 10:16)
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
I just got some money stolen that was meant for a widow. At least just steal it from me, why further distress those in need.
 

Ed Walsh

Puritan Board Senior
I have grown cynical and jaded with people. And distrustful. It gets worse with age. Any advice for trying to think well of people? My mind knows my duties; but it is hard to "feel" or "own" those duties.

EDIT: I will beat some of you to the punch. Yes, I do often contemplate that others also deal patiently with my own weaknesses and forgive my own shortcomings, so I should deal with theirs gently as well.

Lately, I did some severe self-appraisal as I considered Paul's words.
Romans 12:3 (KJV)​
For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.​

I was considering the opposite in my case as I questioned if it was possible to think more lowly of oneself than he should. I guess it is possible, but all I could conclude from the self-knowledge God has been good enough to show me a part of, I still concluded that I might be the most loathsome human being on earth. Given all the wonders the Lord has shown me, coupled with how unchanged I am by it all, my conclusion seems clear.

It comes pretty easy for me to think more highly of others than of myself.
 
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ZackF

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
I have grown cynical and jaded with people. And distrustful. It gets worse with age. Any advice for trying to think well of people? My mind knows my duties; but it is hard to "feel" or "own" those duties.

EDIT: I will beat some of you to the punch. Yes, I do often contemplate that others also deal patiently with my own weaknesses and forgive my own shortcomings, so I should deal with theirs gently as well.
Nobody has recommended a book for Perg yet? :scratch:
 

Challer

Puritan Board Freshman
I have grown cynical and jaded with people. And distrustful. It gets worse with age. Any advice for trying to think well of people? My mind knows my duties; but it is hard to "feel" or "own" those duties.

EDIT: I will beat some of you to the punch. Yes, I do often contemplate that others also deal patiently with my own weaknesses and forgive my own shortcomings, so I should deal with theirs gently as well.

I've been where you're at, and even still "visit" occasionally, to my shame. Though we be not members of the nation of Israel, surely there is a something for us in this text today.

"But thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in Egypt, and the LORD thy God redeemed thee thence: therefore I command thee to do this thing." - Deuteronomy 24:18 (KJV)

As if to say, "remember you were a slave, remember you were like them, remember the pit you came from before I rescued you." I've certainly taken great encouragement from it, and I pray that you will also.
 

Anthony W. Brown II

Puritan Board Freshman
Brother, I understand where you are coming from.. I can hardly trust myself, let alone someone else. The way I see it, if I struggle with the flesh whilst being in Christ, how much worse off are those that do not have that restraint of love from the Son? They will do as they please. Whatever they will to do no matter how wicked they will find a way to do it.

That was once our estate no doubt. We were dead in trespasses and sins seeking to fulfill every lust imaginable. Now we are new creatures belonging to the Good and Best Shepherd, who will neither leave us nor forsake us. I can only trust others as far as I can throw myself!

Sent from my SM-A326U using Tapatalk
 

Challer

Puritan Board Freshman
I can only trust others as far as I can throw myself!

Sent from my SM-A326U using Tapatalk

I know what you mean. And yet, this is our lot in a sense as it pertains to the reprobate. Pertaining to the brethren, however, Philippians 2:3 would have us esteem others as better than ourselves.
 

TheInquirer

Puritan Board Sophomore
I have grown cynical and jaded with people. And distrustful. It gets worse with age.

You aren't the only one. Here are some thoughts I have had about it over the years:

There is some warrant for being distrustful to an extent I believe from:

  1. Jesus himself: "Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing. 24 But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people 25 and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man." - John 2:23-25
  2. The Doctrine of Total Depravity
When it comes to other Christians, I continually hear "believe the best" and "show grace" but I question those statements and how they are used. I am called to love people in spite of their sins. I am called to be gentle and patient with them - that much is clear from Scripture. However, I am not to be either undiscerning or naive on one hand or unfairly critical on the other. I have a tendency toward either extremes depending on my interactions with people. I think the process of getting to know people is to learn who they are which involves how much they can be trusted and in what areas they can be trusted.

For me, trust isn't a "yes/no" on/off switch. It is a continuum - a sliding scale. And it is a sliding scale that breaks down into different categories. I may trust someone to teach me something they are good at while not trusting them to watch my kids. The greater the seriousness of the issue, the greater trust is required.

One of the greatest pains in life is when someone you trust goes and does something horrible. Their actions reveal they are not what you thought they were. I think the reaction, at least for me, has been the cynical and jaded attitude you mention. We don't want to "fall for that again" and I think those attitudes are protection mechanisms for ourselves and others. However, they must be tempered with wisdom and with the commands of Scripture.

I have to remind myself that I need to treat each person as an individual and not project the sins of others onto the person. Maybe God reminds me of this when I feel I have been unfairly judged by others which is always painful.

And I need to remind myself that Scripture teaches there aren't that many good people in the world and I should value the ones that God puts in my life.
 

RobertPGH1981

Puritan Board Sophomore
I have grown cynical and jaded with people. And distrustful. It gets worse with age. Any advice for trying to think well of people? My mind knows my duties; but it is hard to "feel" or "own" those duties.

I have the same issue perg. I think the worst and always apply unfavorable motives to people's actions. In my case, it most likely has more to do with my childhood, but in some aspects, I mistrust people because the bible speaks so poorly of man (Rom 3:10-18). No sure how to overcome this either but I always pray for God's help.
 

Challer

Puritan Board Freshman
I have the same issue perg. I think the worst and always apply unfavorable motives to people's actions. In my case, it most likely has more to do with my childhood, but in some aspects, I mistrust people because the bible speaks so poorly of man (Rom 3:10-18). No sure how to overcome this either but I always pray for God's help.

It’s been of some help to me in the past to recall Jeremiah 17:9. While hearts are desperately wicked, they’re also unknowable. For this reason I try to be charitable and not presume to know more about people (esp. their motives, intentions, etc.).

I guess maybe these days, practically speaking, I might be less cynical and more trusting because I’m at a place in my walk and in my life where I have less to lose. If I’m cheated, why not let myself be cheated in the case of a brother. If I’m persecuted by the world, my Lord told me well in advance by His Word. If a stranger acts charitably, I praise God for it as what is probably the exception and not the rule.

At the same time, we ought to be wary of the world and separate from it as much as possible. We’re called to holiness and to be as wise as serpents and harmless as doves. We know something of worldlings (we were once worldlings ourselves) and the prince of the power of the air. Does this warrant distrust? Is this cynicism? Perhaps if it is, it isn’t a cynicism worth striving to part with.

Or perhaps it’s my bed time. :)

Grace and peace!
 

lynnie

Puritan Board Graduate
Perg-

My niece married a cop who eventually trained as a detective and ended up in the 9 and under pedophile unit working for the state attorney general for many years. He recently went back to regular cop work; he couldn't take it any more. He headed up a lot of arrests. The detectives/cops got regular therapy and he didn't actually have to do the most gross computer work delving into the dark web visuals where kiddie p0rn is sold ( mostly women cops do that) but he saw enough.

When somebody sits and tells you stories just to unload while they drink beer after beer after beer and the look in their eyes is one of trauma and anguish, you end up not trusting anybody. I'm mostly there thanks partly to this guy D. These criminals are not "trailer trash", they are physicians and lawyers and professionals and ministers and youth pastors and evangelical church attenders. Maybe 2% at most are women. They have wives and kids and beautiful homes and good jobs. When the swat team busted in with D in the lead, he said most of the time the wives are freaking out that it is impossible that their husband is a criminal, and the criminal looks at them and says "I wondered how long it would take for you guys to catch me". They averaged 300 busts a year in his state and its just the tip of the iceberg.

He was broken up the most by a two year old that died from the penetration before they caught the guy. They've caught a lot who are selling ( not always making and filming, often just selling) little 4 and 5 year old girls screaming in terror while being raped. The people buying this evil are so addicted that they have to watch it every night and can't sleep without feeding on it every single night and maybe daytime too. Sometimes they can never rescue the girls if the films come from say Russia- they try to "save" the American kids who they can trace.

I won't belabor the subject....I've been through my own processing it for years and the raging anger. But suffice it to say that D told me that he trusted nobody, and if a guy told him he was a Christian he trusted him even less. I know a chaplain in NC who ended up doing counseling for church leadership staff addicted to p0rn including pedophila p0rn, and his wife told me that I could not imagine how bad it is and how many nice pastors with nice wives down there in the bible belt are hooked. Its horrible, just so horrible.

D said that before the internet people may have had the urges and unclean thoughts, but it was much harder to feed it and guys could live a normal life and just squash it down under the appearances of normality and respectable living even if it was lurking. But now with the internet even pre adolescents are getting hooked on the most vile films you can imagine. A struggling addicted Christian who hates himself for what he is doing is one category, the other category is the psychopaths who don't hate it and don't even act remorseful when they get arrested, and thrive on the darkness and the secrecy- and the money. Tons of money. And these men are ALL OVER IN CHURCHES.

My advice to you Perg- stop being naive and thinking the problem is you and you are sinning when in fact God has given you discernment. People have to earn your trust and let that be earned over much time and without repressing intuitive signals that something might be "off". Your jaded cynicism is wisdom. Protect your kids and pray for kids in churches who are being used and abused by "Christian" relatives and staff.

Sex abuse and criminal pedophila is one thing. Money and theft is another, gossiping behind your back is another. To be fair, people in needy pain will do anything to stop the pain and feel better. The reason torture works to make people "talk" or do bad things is because we hate pain so much. I know people who find needing money literally painful. (welcome to the word need....but they think they need it). I've been provoked to repeat things out of pain that I never should have, and to say things that made me feel better but were not from love. I am grateful I have never been tempted to fill up empty places with the evil I described above, but I've filled empty places in some stupid ways over the years. Once I caught a church leader in a lie and lost all trust for them, but in retrospect, they did love the Lord and had a Peter before the rooster crowed moment. Its a tough subject, to discern weakness from wickedness.

Well, I hope you will go to intercession about it all, and you may as well pray for me too if you think I'm wrong, because I am as cynical as anybody I know. But I'm just not sure you have a problem.
 

Anthony W. Brown II

Puritan Board Freshman
Perg-

My niece married a cop who eventually trained as a detective and ended up in the 9 and under pedophile unit working for the state attorney general for many years. He recently went back to regular cop work; he couldn't take it any more. He headed up a lot of arrests. The detectives/cops got regular therapy and he didn't actually have to do the most gross computer work delving into the dark web visuals where kiddie p0rn is sold ( mostly women cops do that) but he saw enough.

When somebody sits and tells you stories just to unload while they drink beer after beer after beer and the look in their eyes is one of trauma and anguish, you end up not trusting anybody. I'm mostly there thanks partly to this guy D. These criminals are not "trailer trash", they are physicians and lawyers and professionals and ministers and youth pastors and evangelical church attenders. Maybe 2% at most are women. They have wives and kids and beautiful homes and good jobs. When the swat team busted in with D in the lead, he said most of the time the wives are freaking out that it is impossible that their husband is a criminal, and the criminal looks at them and says "I wondered how long it would take for you guys to catch me". They averaged 300 busts a year in his state and its just the tip of the iceberg.

He was broken up the most by a two year old that died from the penetration before they caught the guy. They've caught a lot who are selling ( not always making and filming, often just selling) little 4 and 5 year old girls screaming in terror while being raped. The people buying this evil are so addicted that they have to watch it every night and can't sleep without feeding on it every single night and maybe daytime too. Sometimes they can never rescue the girls if the films come from say Russia- they try to "save" the American kids who they can trace.

I won't belabor the subject....I've been through my own processing it for years and the raging anger. But suffice it to say that D told me that he trusted nobody, and if a guy told him he was a Christian he trusted him even less. I know a chaplain in NC who ended up doing counseling for church leadership staff addicted to p0rn including pedophila p0rn, and his wife told me that I could not imagine how bad it is and how many nice pastors with nice wives down there in the bible belt are hooked. Its horrible, just so horrible.

D said that before the internet people may have had the urges and unclean thoughts, but it was much harder to feed it and guys could live a normal life and just squash it down under the appearances of normality and respectable living even if it was lurking. But now with the internet even pre adolescents are getting hooked on the most vile films you can imagine. A struggling addicted Christian who hates himself for what he is doing is one category, the other category is the psychopaths who don't hate it and don't even act remorseful when they get arrested, and thrive on the darkness and the secrecy- and the money. Tons of money. And these men are ALL OVER IN CHURCHES.

My advice to you Perg- stop being naive and thinking the problem is you and you are sinning when in fact God has given you discernment. People have to earn your trust and let that be earned over much time and without repressing intuitive signals that something might be "off". Your jaded cynicism is wisdom. Protect your kids and pray for kids in churches who are being used and abused by "Christian" relatives and staff.

Sex abuse and criminal pedophila is one thing. Money and theft is another, gossiping behind your back is another. To be fair, people in needy pain will do anything to stop the pain and feel better. The reason torture works to make people "talk" or do bad things is because we hate pain so much. I know people who find needing money literally painful. (welcome to the word need....but they think they need it). I've been provoked to repeat things out of pain that I never should have, and to say things that made me feel better but were not from love. I am grateful I have never been tempted to fill up empty places with the evil I described above, but I've filled empty places in some stupid ways over the years. Once I caught a church leader in a lie and lost all trust for them, but in retrospect, they did love the Lord and had a Peter before the rooster crowed moment. Its a tough subject, to discern weakness from wickedness.

Well, I hope you will go to intercession about it all, and you may as well pray for me too if you think I'm wrong, because I am as cynical as anybody I know. But I'm just not sure you have a problem.
God help us. Protect our children, O Lord. Preserve them from sin and unbelief. They are yours, Lord. We know you love them more than we do, and you love us more than we love ourselves. Teach us that you are in control and on your heavenly throne and sin will be judged on that great and terrible day. Be with us today and forever more. Amen.

Sent from my SM-A326U using Tapatalk
 

alexanderjames

Puritan Board Freshman
I attempted a comment before but upon reflection, this is my revised comment..

When people talk about “jaded cynicism”, I don’t think that’s wisdom. There’s a wisdom which doesn’t put hope and trust in man. But “jaded” suggests to me a kind of bitterness, and cynicism implies judging secret motivations with no clear evidence. That’s surely dangerous ground, especially based on Jesus’ words about judgment in John 7 and Matthew 7.

I agree with Ed in that it helps to gain a greater understanding of the blackness within our own hearts, and yet how the Lord still lovingly receives us. And the other comments about understanding who we would be apart from God’s saving grace.
 
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JTB.SDG

Puritan Board Junior
Pergster,

*Our organization had an amazing training on this a few years ago, but I can't remember it now, sorry about that.

*I'm currently pretty discouraged with myself. Maybe that's part of the key; though not always. The people whose sins trouble you may themselves be troubled and discouraged by their own sins.

*Jesus was used, again and again. He continued to give of himself freely to these people. He was doing it ultimately for His Father.

*Take a look at your own sins, but don't stay there too long. Get back to the cross. This life is the life of the J curve.
 

TheInquirer

Puritan Board Sophomore
Perg - you also have a heart to give your life, your health, your wealth and your family for these very sinners through your mission work. You must not be too jaded! (maybe selectively jaded....)
 

Charles Johnson

Puritan Board Sophomore
I distrust people more every day. In the fall I was fired after a co-worker told the boss I was looking for another job (which he knew they fired for at that company), and then the company cooked the books to withhold hundred of dollars in pay, and then to top it off they didn't refer me to unemployment. Given that, plus the apparent sensitivity to perceived political incorrectness in my new workplace, I don't trust my coworkers on bit. I don't have any conversations beyond 'how about the weather', lest I get fired again for something I said taken out of context. I trust other Christians at church, but I do not trust my coworkers.
 

smhbbag

Puritan Board Senior
I have grown cynical and jaded with people. And distrustful. It gets worse with age. Any advice for trying to think well of people? My mind knows my duties; but it is hard to "feel" or "own" those duties.

EDIT: I will beat some of you to the punch. Yes, I do often contemplate that others also deal patiently with my own weaknesses and forgive my own shortcomings, so I should deal with theirs gently as well.
The twin problems are represented by the 99% that turn into principle-less ignorance of modern phenomena represented by John Piper or Tim Keller.

The other 1% is AW Pink who forsakes Christ's bride because all are too tainted.

Advice to think well of people? I struggle with the same. But I'm reminded that even the Corinthian church did not generate an excuse for Paul to tell folks to miss or to disrespect church. Think of a man and his bride, and now matter how one thinks of the woman, the respect for the Man tempers one's tongue.
 

RaderSDG00

Puritan Board Freshman
I distrust people more every day. In the fall I was fired after a co-worker told the boss I was looking for another job (which he knew they fired for at that company), and then the company cooked the books to withhold hundred of dollars in pay, and then to top it off they didn't refer me to unemployment. Given that, plus the apparent sensitivity to perceived political incorrectness in my new workplace, I don't trust my coworkers on bit. I don't have any conversations beyond 'how about the weather', lest I get fired again for something I said taken out of context. I trust other Christians at church, but I do not trust my coworkers.
Oh my friend, I sympathize with you greatly. I am sorry that happened to you. That too has been one of my greatest crosses, lies upon lies upon lies by coworkers to management. Always laying snares and digging pits for me to fall into and never ceasing to slander. This has been a very significant source of my own distrust and cynicism, and bitterness. The indignation that you must have felt at such villainous lies! I'd love to know how you dealt with it personally.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
Perg - you also have a heart to give your life, your health, your wealth and your family for these very sinners through your mission work. You must not be too jaded! (maybe selectively jaded....)
My head agrees with you, but my heart has trouble following this advice. I will try to remember Jesus who is so good and kind to us despite our evil ways.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
I distrust people more every day. In the fall I was fired after a co-worker told the boss I was looking for another job (which he knew they fired for at that company), and then the company cooked the books to withhold hundred of dollars in pay, and then to top it off they didn't refer me to unemployment. Given that, plus the apparent sensitivity to perceived political incorrectness in my new workplace, I don't trust my coworkers on bit. I don't have any conversations beyond 'how about the weather', lest I get fired again for something I said taken out of context. I trust other Christians at church, but I do not trust my coworkers.
Ouch. So sorry.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
Pergster,

*Our organization had an amazing training on this a few years ago, but I can't remember it now, sorry about that.

*I'm currently pretty discouraged with myself. Maybe that's part of the key; though not always. The people whose sins trouble you may themselves be troubled and discouraged by their own sins.

*Jesus was used, again and again. He continued to give of himself freely to these people. He was doing it ultimately for His Father.

*Take a look at your own sins, but don't stay there too long. Get back to the cross. This life is the life of the J curve.
Yes. I learned a lot of good stuff, too, but maybe I need a remedial course.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
I attempted a comment before but upon reflection, this is my revised comment..

When people talk about “jaded cynicism”, I don’t think that’s wisdom. There’s a wisdom which doesn’t put hope and trust in man. But “jaded” suggests to me a kind of bitterness, and cynicism implies judging secret motivations with no clear evidence. That’s surely dangerous ground, especially based on Jesus’ words about judgment in John 7 and Matthew 7.

I agree with Ed in that it helps to gain a greater understanding of the blackness within our own hearts, and yet how the Lord still lovingly receives us. And the other comments about understanding who we would be apart from God’s saving grace.
You have a valid point I think. I am thinking this through. Thanks.
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
Thanks for beating me to the punch, Perg. That was very patient of you. ;)
 
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