My wife Becky thinks there is much truth in the idea that, the more someone complains, the longer God will let them live. I’ll have to think about that one. One thing is for sure, complaining is draining to both the complainer and those around them.
Here is a story about complaining to get us thinking.
Sister Mary Katherine entered the Monastery of Silence. The priest says on his first day there, “Sister, this is a silent monastery. You are welcome to stay here long as you like, but you may not speak until I direct you to do so.”
So, Sister Mary Katherine lived in the monastery for five years before the priest said to her, “Sister, you have been here for five years. You may now speak two words.” Sister Mary Katherine said: “Hard bed.” “I’m sorry to hear that,” the priest said, “We will get you a better bed.”
After another five years, Sister Mary Katherine was called by the priest. “You may say another two words, Sister Mary Katherine.” “Cold food,” said Sister, and the priest assured her the food would be better in the future.
On her fifteenth anniversary at the monastery, the priest again called Sister Mary Katherine into his office. “You may say two words today.” “I quit,” said Sister Mary Katherine. “It’s probably best,” said the priest. “You have done nothing but complain since you got here.”
I think we would all agree that Sister Mary Katherine wasn’t a typical complainer. But, people grow tired of people who are known as constant complainers. Some people enjoy complaining as much as they enjoy doing nothing about it. A critic is a non-participant. Our recent elections in the United States were filled with complaints about this and that. Those running were more complainers than campaigners. Then their bad ‘attitude virus’ infects others. One of my friends from South Africa says, “Build a bridge and get over it.”
We know complainers initially get attention. But, after a while, they tend to overplay their hand and people begin to turn them off. Complaining is not conversation. Someone said a critic is a non-participant. Constant complaining without offering solutions is a bore. If you’re not helping to make it right, then stop complaining about it being wrong. Don’t find fault, find a remedy that is real, tangible, practical and lasting. If you don’t like your situation, be the constructive change. Become solution conscience, not just problem conscience. Complaining is finding faults. Wisdom is finding solutions.
Complaining can be proactive. It is meant to start things going toward a real solution. Most times, complaining becomes destructive, not constructive. In that case, be loving but be firm to ask for realistic solutions. Here’s some wisdom: Don’t argue with a constant complainer. They will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience. Let’s be real. The only thing complaining does is convince other people the one doing the complaining in not in control.
The Bible has much to say about destructive constant complaining that morphs into murmuring and groaning. This verse pretty much says what we need to hear on the subject. “Do not complain (literally means to groan) against one another that you yourselves may not be judged…” James 5:9a. That’s a pretty good place to start, isn’t it?
Here’s a life-lifter we can apply today. Go twenty-four hours without complaining (not even once). Then watch how your life starts changing for the better. Why should we? Because spending today complaining about yesterday will not make tomorrow better. “Complaining gets in the way of gaining.” (Jeffrey Benjamin).
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