This past Sunday as I was having lunch with my friend, he and I both came to a profound and yet totally elementary question about our Christian faith: where do we file our complaints?
Every person faces the very real temptation to navel gaze, grow short-sighted, self-centered, and think that the world, the church, our work, and our spouses all owe us something. In every church or organization, there are the things that we love more and there are the things that we love less.
Groaning like gods
Every morning in the gym, I stretch. Bleary-eyed, I find my way to the cardio room and stretch and groan a bit, and then I run a couple miles.
When it comes to being stretched in ministry, the temptation is to groan and complain. And to complain a lot. And to complain to the wrong people. And to complain about trivial things. It is too easy to just see something, make a judgment, and unload all of our problems on someone else. When we decide to complain to other co-workers, there’s a number of problems.
When we’re doing this, we’re acting as if we are a god and someone has disrupted our world, and so we inform the angels (our co-workers, family, and friends) that our wrath is burning.
Have an honoring heart
A complaining mouth is an indicator that our heart has a bigger problem than whatever the issue is at hand: it is a heart dissatisfied in God. As Augustine writes in Confessions, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in You.” This doesn’t mean leaders are perfect. This is about a culture of honor for our leaders. All complaining does in the end is breed division, discourse, and lack of trust in our leaders.
Let God be your lightning rod
Paul says, “Do all things without grumbling or disputing” (Phil. 2:14). This doesn’t mean we can’t disagree or have another opinion on how things should be done. In fact, some opinions may actually be really good ones that can be helpful to the whole team and serve everyone well.
Ultimately, we have to realize that people are not necessarily designed to be our lightning rods. Pastor Mark has taught us to let God be our lightning rod. That is, we can vent to him and let him know what things we are frustrated or struggling with. He can take it. Read the Psalms. It goes down on almost every page. And because God is the perfect dad, he listens to us, affirms us where we are right, and corrects our attitudes and judgments where they are wrong.
A priority of prayer
The problem is not that we disagree—it’s what we do with our opinions. Do we first take them before our Father and submit them to him and his Word? When we make a priority of praying through our opinions, we end up being able to find the sin and pride in our heart as we remember our identity both in Jesus and in the organization.
When it comes to giving an opinion to those in authority over us, consider these two questions:
- Did they ask for my opinion?
- How’s my attitude in bringing this to the table?
If nobody is asking for your opinion, it is for a reason. If somebody does ask, it doesn’t hurt to have your thoughts mapped out, a smile on your face, and honor in your heart for your leaders (Rom. 12:10; Heb. 13:17).