Recently, I was reminded of an old story that still makes me laugh. A young monk entered the mountain monastery on a life commitment. On his first day, he was told that all the other monks had taken a vow of silence, and they expected him to do the same. Every seven years, he would be brought before the council of elders. At that time, he could say two words.
After his first seven years, he stood before the council and was given the opportunity to speak. He whispered “bed hard.” After another 7 years, he was again brought before the council to say his two words. He boldly said “food cold.” After still another 7 years, he was again given opportunity to say two words to the council. The young monk screamed “I quit.” The council convened privately for a few minutes. Then they announced that they would gladly accept his resignation because all he had done since he got there was complain.
Over the years, I have met a lot of complainers. Many of them were unhappy with me or one of my decisions. It helped me to read about the Children of Israel and how they treated their leader Moses. That poor leader really had a tough crowd to deal with. After several years in the ministry, I finally learned to spot a “probable complaining Israelite” fairly quickly.
There were complainers in the Bible and I will mention only three. First, in Psalm 73, Asaph, the leader of worship, complains about those who have wealth. Second, the anointed Prophet Jeremiah in Chapter 12, complains about the wicked and their unfair prosperity. Third, Christian leaders in Acts 6 complained that the widows were not being treated fairly. It is too bad that people of Faith have to complain. It would be better to seek answers than to grumble all the time.
In my experience, I have learned that there are three common reasons that people establish an unhealthy pattern of complaining. First, it’s just a bad habit. Once started, it can become an addiction. Second, some complainers see griping is a good conversation starter. Third, complainers are seeking validation. Hopefully, someone will agree with them and they feel better about themselves.
In fact, many people always start from the point of angry complaint. That makes everyone back off which is exactly what the complainer wants. If complainers are on your committee, you’ve got problems. One verse that shuts me up is James 5:9 – “Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged!” Comments?