Why do so many people love to complain? It almost seems like second nature to us. Our first response to something new or different is to complain about it. And we love to share our complaints with others. We look to gather our own tribe of like-minded complainers.
Children (and parents) complain about memory work and homework. We complain about our food, our work, our partner and other people. And there are many people who like to complain about their church or their pastors or leaders or the other people who work in the church. Sometimes we complain because we simply do not like someone. Sometimes we complain because we don’t like something new or different. It forces us to think differently. It forces us to change. While not all change is good, sometimes change makes us learn and grow. For example some people do not like a more contemporary style of worship service. They want worship to stay the same, the way it always has been. Sometimes we complain when we are inconvenienced. We do like it when life goes our way.
When we complain, we believe that we have or know something better than the person or thing we are complaining about. We have an answer or a solution or an idea that we think is better than the one we are complaining about. The truth is, we may not have all the facts or information before making a judgment. I have zero respect for people who love to complain “out there” to everyone else, but never come to you personally to find out the truth or to hear the other side. Most of the time people find out the truth about the way things really are when they take the bold (but honest) step to talk face to face. And they discover that it quite different than what they were told or first believed.
The truth is complaining doesn’t do anything to change or improve something we don’t like. In fact, it does the opposite. It is very harmful and destructive, especially if we are complaining about a person read Luther’s explanation to the 8th Commandment) or our church to other people “out there.” It only serves as a poor witness that discourages people from coming to our church.
So what is the opposite of complaining? I believe the apostle Paul gives us wise instructions in Philippians 2:14-16a, “Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the Word of life.” The opposite of complaining is contributing. “Do” Paul says. If you know or have an idea that you think is better, than offer to help or serve. Find out how things really work first. Then share your thoughts or ideas. Volunteer. Get involved. Work with your church leaders to make things better. Since God has made us members of one Body (his Church), we need to find ways to work with, not against, one another. The best way to do that is to contribute, not complain.