We've been burnt by authority.
Let's resist the temptation to whine. We've all been burned and have done some burning. This archaeology is valuable to me because it explains why vulnerable ministry resonates with folk in my generation.
It's a matter of contrasts.
The huge scandals of the 80s became the disappointments of the 90s. Now, we don't even have the capacity to act surprised. Men and women who live lives that are above reproach are just men and women who haven't been caught yet. Sound cynical? It is.
Our cynicism can't be preached away. We can't be guilted or shamed or lectured into trusting. Those techniques make us more cynical.
Our hopes have been dashed. Our trust has been broken. We've been burned by authority.
I wish this wasn't the case.
Just last week I was in a discipling appointment and I stumbled over this. I was explaining one of our leadership guardrails: why specifically we're hesitant to let someone lead in two Christian communities. There are several reasons, but one of them is historical. We used to do it and it didn't work out so well.
The friend I was talking to did exactly what I would have done: she asked me who these people were. Neither of us would have cared about who the actual people were (David, Ryan, Katie, Sarah), we would have just wanted to know that they were real people, that the other person wasn't pulling the wool over our eyes. Remember, we've been burnt by authority. Can't you see someone making up past problems to justify present policy?
But this didn't go well. I was running on 4 hours of sleep after two weeks of travel, so sick I could barely hear and had just found out he had a huge hiccough with Amy's insurance. I couldn't remember these names. I hadn't thought about these folks and situations in years.
The conversation didn't go well, but we've had a commitment to vulnerability on campus. And this student isn't a parishoner (such a cold word), she's a friend. She probably didn't believe me (I wasn't sure I believed me until I found those names. That's how tired I was), but she hung in there with me. She actually prayed for me.
Why? I don't actually know. I think it has something to do with the fact that I've been really open with her about my flaws and weaknesses and she knows that this isn't one of them.
I'll explore this more tomorrow.