Thursday, April 11, 2013

Professional Complainer

I am guilty of being a Professional Complainer. Let me tell you exactly how good I am at the stuff: other than practicing complaining, I've even read books about writing complaint letters to get better results. I'm happy to report that the book is now collecting dust and I decided instead to read what the Bible has to say about my problem.

To complain is to express grief, pain or discontent. It is also to make a formal accusation or charge. My complaints usually fall in one of the two categories: Natural Processes of Life or Other People.

As a Professional Complainer, Natural Processes of Life highly annoy me but they should not. Take a friend of mine who is a farmer as an example. He plants his bell peppers and does not complain about how long is going to take to harvest them. Instead, he goes out daily to take care of the soil, to water it and protect it from the harsh winter. He prays that God will give him a great and profitable harvest. Complaining about the amount of time that takes to harvest bell peppers is foolish and it does not move my farmer friend forward.

Finding sneeky ways to complain about Other People is a specialty of Professional Complainers. It can be done by taking an unauthorized photo of a stranger to put it on Instagram with the purpose of embarrassment. It can also be done by interjecting criticism in conversation about a person who is not present with the goal  damaging the absent person's character. The wise solution to the unauthorized, embarrassing photo is not to do it at all. The wise solution to the criticism is to face the person who offended you and have an honest conversation. Complaining about other People this way is not fruitful.

The issue of being a Professional Complainer is not new at all. One of the most famous cases is found in Exodus 15:24 when the Israelites where constantly complaining to Moses about their various situations. Psalm 106:25 says that they "complained in their tents, and did not heed the voice of the LORD." I believe that complaining has the power to diminish God's voice in our lives.

I have learned that God doesn't have a problem with complaining when it's done the correct way. I have been recently studying the book of Psalms and the various authors complain a lot but they do it to the One who can do something about their problems. Here's Psalm 142:2 "I pour out my complaint before Him; I declare before Him my trouble." Turning my complaints into prayer has proven to be a better way to find relief and wisdom.

Friends, God hears our complaints and He answers them. I cease from being a Professional Complainer when I decided to look at my own heart and ask the following questions:
What is the goal of my complaint? Is it to damage someone's reputation or is it to find a peaceful resolution?
What is the estate of my heart as I complain? Do I need to forgive? Do I need counseling? Do I need to pray before talking to others about my issues?
Will my complaint be fruitful? Do I need to learn more about the natural processes of life? Do I need to create a thankful heart instead of a complaining heart?

Leaving this Professional Complainer gig has not been easy but the more I search the Scriptures, I find that God has a better way. Today I am choosing thanksgiving instead of complaining. Reflection, instead of compulsive accusation. What will you choose my friend?

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