Handling Complaints and Dealing with Change

/// So, I picked up this little phrase from my kids book about the negative effects of complaining. I thought it might be slightly applicable for not only churches, but also individuals.

At times, we teach our children things that we forget to put into practice with our own attitudes. The church rarely addresses the issue of grumbling or complaining, primarily because of the fear that comes from correcting behavior within the church. However, we all need correction when we are out of step of the character for which Jesus Christ died. I can complain about things that have no value to ministry or reaching people for Jesus, focusing on my wants and desires as opposed to what God commands of me. The apostle Paul writes of this to the church in Philippi in Philippians 2:14-16 (ESV), remarking that there should be no evidence of “grumbling” within the church. The desire for believers in this passage is to live a life that is blameless before the world, so that we might be effective lights of the gospel in the midst of darkness.

So, what can I do personally do to help me be a more effective light in the world that God has called me to minister? How can I handle the pressures of life in such a way that I do not turn into a perpetual grump? In order for me to live a personal life of spiritual renewal, its best to ask myself the question:

Am I willing to accept the change that causes complaining?

Change tends to be the culprit of complaining. Understandably, change can lead to an outcome that makes things uncertain or uneasy. There are many moments in my personal life where change has made me uncomfortable, simply because I feel uncertain about my ability to control the outcome.

The beauty of following Jesus is that we get to serve a change agent. The life of Christ is one that ushers in a new method by which we understand our relationship with God, where we have a freedom that exists through a change of events in the spiritual culture of religion. Consider this: when Jesus arrived on the scene, he began to speak as a man who had authority (Matthew 7:29, Mark 1:22). The presence of this authority made life uneasy for those who had spent most of their religious upbringing holding fast to the law that was ushered in under the leadership of Moses. When Jesus began to challenge the religious culture, the culture would come back to Christ with challenges of complaint. They were BOLD! They had no issue bringing people before Jesus in order to publicly shame them only so that they could catch Jesus in a religious loophole (John 8:1-10, ESV).

People will do crazy things and develop crazy schemes in order for their complaints to be heard. The Israelites wondered the wilderness for forty years because their continual attitude towards God’s command in their life. He was calling them to something different, bringing about a change in their life that was for their benefit. However, they felt like they had better grasp on their present reality than God, which perpetuated itself in a continual pattern of grumbling and complaining.

If God is making necessary changes in your personal life, then you need to be willing to accept the outcomes of God’s calling. Complaining to God will get you nowhere. As the church, we need to be vigilant about squashing the attitude of complaining within the body, especially if it accompanies a legitimate change that is from God . If there is a logical complaint that is ushered in with a proper attitude and motive, then it is safe to say that it is most likely coming from a good place. Yet, the opposite approach must be avoided at all cost. Complaints that are received out of a malicious and hateful place need to be rebuked. The church must protect itself from those who seek destroy the joy of the body for personal ego and gain.

If we are going to encourage the generations under us to a have an attitude of positive influence, then we must be willing to set an example for them to follow. Issuing a complaint is not always negative, when it is coming from the correct posture. When we perceive a spiritual wrong, it is essential for us to point that out within the church. In your personal life, making a complaint is not wrong. We must, however, make sure that our lodged complaint is beneficial for the body as a whole as opposed to a personal request or desire that comes from a place of want.

We must strive to keep our attitudes and hearts in check when it comes to the change that accompanies God’s work, in order that we might be able to stand blameless to the lost souls within the world. God is always working on his people, and he is always working on me. Be encouraged this week that we can be agents of positive change that helps to grow the kingdom of God. ///

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