Participation Without Involvement Breeds Cynicism

To watch this principle in action, go to any homeowners association meeting. Whether you like them or not….whether you agree with them or not…those people involved in leadership who put in all the time and really care about the neighborhood…they will rarely be cynical. It’s those who just show up for the meetings but do little else that are the cynics.

I first discovered this truth in church-world. We had been involved in our church for years, but little by little, we’d moved on from this ministry and rotated off that committee. We found ourselves being cynical about the very things we used to be involved with. When we were involved, when we had a stake in the decision making, it was all good. But as we slid into passive participation, our hearts were lost and we became cynical. We found a new church.

The principle comes from Scripture, where the Lord said (in Matthew 6:21) “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Our treasure is our energy, our caring, and concern for our church, business or organization. When we invest the “treasure” of our  energy, our hearts follow. Whatever we invest time and energy into, we will care about. When we stop investing and become participants, we’ll care less and become more cynical over time.

Involvement says “I’m in.” “This is partly my deal.  I care about this.  I’m not just doing the minimum…I’m going above and beyond.  I have pride of ownership.” Participation says “I’ll probably be there.  I hope it’s good, but if it’s not, so what?  I don’t have a dog in this fight.”

When you’re involved, it’s “we”…it’s “my church”, “our company”. When you hear yourself start saying “they”, you’ve probably moved from involvement to participation.

Let’s bring this home. If you lock your wife out of your family finances, she’s going to become cynical about the way you manage the money. If she’s involved, she’s going to feel more supportive of the decisions and more committed to making them work.

If you announce that you’re playing golf on Saturdays, was she involved in that decision or was it just announced to her? Is your wife cynical about your love for golf? There might be a clue here.

The next time you find yourself sour and cynical about something, check your level of involvement. It might be that putting in a little more of your “treasure” will bring a change in your heart!

Question: What are you participating in that you should either quit or become more involved?  You can leave a comment by clicking here.

11 Responses

  1. I feel that I’ve become this way regarding our youth group. It seems the students have checked out, most of the other leaders are checking out, and I’m on the verge of checking out.

    And yet I know it’s not a choice. The students are far too important to give into this complacency that we’ve fallen into.

    • Regi Campbell says:

      The students ARE that important. If you move out, new fresh leadership will come in. If you move in, up the ante and require more of yourself and the other leaders, the cynicism will recede. The only bad option is doing nothing different.

  2. James Davie says:

    As T.R. said “It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena…” God calls us to dare greatly.

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  4. Great insight that has application in the workplace. As a leader finding ways to influence the team to “treasure” what your business is attempting to do determines whether it will be successful or not. If your team members are sitting on the sidelines, not really engaged, they do care less and become cynical. You have to keep everyone engaged.

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  6. Mike Edens says:

    Wow. Thank you Regi. I am going to put this principle into complete practice in my life. When I find cynicism swelling inside, I’m gonna dig internally and evaluate my involvement. Thanks for sharing, and looking forward to digging through your blog and reading future posts!

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