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Sunday, August 4, 2013

Got any chronic complainers in your circle?

Do you know any chronic complainers?  You know the type - there is nothing right with the world, the soup is too runny, the room too hot, the driver in front doesn't know how to drive.  You could say the glass is half full - they'd see it as half empty and with no hope of ever being filled again!  Complainers live in a world all their own and feed off the misery of others to keep their complaints alive and thriving.  I kind of think Moses may have encountered just a few of these chronic complainers as Israel was wandering around the desert for 40 years.  There were those who wanted meat, not manna.  Others wanted fresh water without having to exert much effort, while others had no idea what they wanted!  Some could not be content no matter what you did for them.  Notice I said "could not be content", not "would not be content". For the chronic complainer, it is a matter of will, not of provision!  

Remember our history, friends, and be warned. All our ancestors were led by the providential Cloud and taken miraculously through the Sea... They all ate and drank identical food and drink, meals provided daily by God... But just experiencing God’s wonder and grace didn’t seem to mean much—most of them were defeated by temptation during the hard times in the desert, and God was not pleased.  The same thing could happen to us. We must be on guard so that we never get caught up in wanting our own way as they did.... We must never try to get Christ to serve us instead of us serving him; they tried it, and God launched an epidemic of poisonous snakes. We must be careful not to stir up discontent; discontent destroyed them.  (Excerpts from I Corinthians 10:1-10 MSG)

One thing is for certain in this life - you cannot see things from a negative viewpoint forever and expect to ever achieve positive results.  It isn't like it was in algebra class - two negatives do not achieve a positive result in real life!  How we view life often determines if we can ever get a "positive" out of a "negative" circumstance.  The chronic complainers may be good at pointing out the problems, but they are terrible at ever coming up with the solutions. Their vantage point just doesn't afford them the opportunity to think outside of the "negative" box.  

Did you ever stop to consider those around you in the "problem-solving" you have to engage in today?  The ones you surround yourself with may make all the difference in whether you find greater problems or actually begin to chip away at the solution.  God gives us problems, not to defeat us, but so we can engage with each other on the solutions.  It is this "engagement" process which actually helps us to grow - for we learn to see life from different perspectives and not just through our own viewpoint.  The disciples didn't go out one by one - they went out in "teams" because there was something powerful in being "partnered" with someone to assist in getting the work done.

Chronic complainers have one thing in common - they are "impossibility" thinkers.  Problem-solvers have just the opposite in common - they are "possibility" thinkers.  If you didn't realize this yet, we all work off of each other's reactions, perceptions, and thought processes.  Your reactions to the problem can affect my reactions to it.  Your perception of the root causes can influence where I go to look for the root causes.  Your thought processes, when shared with me, become influential in either confirming or challenging my own thought processes.  

Here is something I have come to realize - chronic complainers are often trying to get others to engage in some form of conflict.  They aren't happy until others are affected by the conflict.  If we recognize this up front, we might just be a little less likely to engage in their totally warped way of thinking!  It is easy to get "sucked into" the conflict of the chronic complainer. Truth be told, we have all done it a time or two.  The challenge comes in avoiding their conflict without totally alienating them in the process.  I have tried a time or two to just say to the chronic complainer, "Hey, I am not interested" and then walk away.  Didn't go well for me, how about you?  They kind of interpret my "disinterest" in their conflict as another thing they can actually complain about!

One thing is for sure - chronic complainers need the "balance" of someone who can get perspective on a situation.  They may not realize they need us, but they do!  Discontent destroys - chronic complainers operate in this realm of discontent.  Not because they have to, but because they know no other way! In dealing with the chronic complainer it is essential for us to keep our focus directed toward the solution - not the problem.  The chronic complainer will do their best to focus on the problem - so they need someone to point them toward the solution.  Just sayin!