Three pieces of jade stones

jaded - adj. tired, bored, or lacking enthusiasm, typically after having too much of something.

cynical - adj. 1. believing that people are motivated by self-interest; distrustful of human sincerity or integrity. 2. doubtful as to whether something will happen or is worthwhile.

I have thought about these characteristics over the last couple of weeks. I worry my coworkers only see me as the jaded, cynical developer that is easily set off by change.

I can’t deny that I tire easily of dealing with some clients. They ask for things that I and the rest of the team feel are ill-advised or even fool-hearty. We are beaten back repeatedly and it feels as they want us to “shut up and do our job.” In this state of powerlessness and being forced to do things I don’t believe in, I have few coping options.

Unfortunately, the easy option is to become cynical. Some client decisions are made because they have over-promised or expectations were not met and now their reputation or maybe even job is on the line. Some of this cynicism comes from experience. I have worked in various organizations where there are those who will emotionally or physically destroy the organization in pursuit of their motives.

I also understand we live in a broken world. Those that strive for power and prestige do so because they know no other way, and we as believers are not immune from that pull. In times of frustration or perceived powerlessness, it becomes easier to judge those running after the things of the world and label them as ignorant.

So, in the face of what I perceive as absurdity, one coping option is to berate these people behind their backs. By feeling intellectually superior, “because I know what should be done”, I get back a sense of power. Another option is to withdraw and cry myself to sleep each night. There is a third way that is God-honoring. I haven’t fleshed out the real-world application but I do know it involves not mocking or judging others who are made in the image of God just as I am.

So after all that, then yes, I am jaded and a bit cynical with regards to dealing with clients. My fear of this perception spilled over into my personal life recently. A few friends and I sat around a table sharing a meal and talking on different topics. I brought up an experience from work and mentioned in jest, “I’m the jaded one.” A chorus of mock astonishment arose around the table. This just confirmed my worry.

Jaded. Cynical. Those words may define one aspect of my professional life but they do not define me. I do not see life as boring or meaningless. Quite the opposite. I struggle with making sure I am making the most of my time and energies. I generally believe the best in people, sometimes to a fault. I can be overcome with emotion at a mountain vista or a sunset. I find great joy in sharing a meal and conversation with friends. Helping someone learn English who is new to our country. These are not the characteristics or behavior of a cynical or jaded person.

I don’t want my legacy to be that I can drink 12 Dr Peppers at one sitting (a high school feat of endurance) or a jaded cynic. I want my legacy to be the following:

  • I cared deeply about my work and did it well.

  • I mentored younger coworkers.

  • I served others physical and spiritual needs.

  • I could see how things are bad or broken yet work to see them changed.

  • I enjoyed exploring new places, cultures and languages.

  • I wasn’t satisfied with the status quo.

In short, I want to be known as a man of God that enjoyed life and used all his gifts and talents to point others to Christ.

What about you? Is there something you are known for yet doesn’t fully describe you? What do you want to be your legacy?