No Christian community is exempt from the problem of the “complaining member.” This person(s) can find fault with everything the community does, or does not do. “The music is too loud.” “Feeding the poor only makes them lazy.” “Did you see what the pastor’s wife was wearing?” “Can’t the pastor make his children behave?” “The youth group ruined that room when they painted the walls.” Fodder for complaints is limitless. Perhaps the following story throws light on a potential solution.
A prince once asked his shrewish wife to fashion a purple garment for him. During the time she was busy with it, he had peace. When she brought it to him, he exlaimed: “Woe is me!” The princess retorted: “I bring you a fine garment, yet you sigh.” The prince answered: “I sigh at the thought that you may now perchance return to your shrewish ways.”
By the same token, when Israel continually grumbled, God asked them to build the Tabernacle, that they might thus be too busy to complain. When it was completed, he exclaimed: “Woe is Me! It is finished!”
(Talmud, Pesikta Rabbati, 5, 9)
One of the findings from the recent Reveal surveys conducted in American churches is that increasing the level of activity in religious functions does not generally indicate a corresponding increase in spiritual growth. Nevertheless, there are a significant number of church members/attenders who need to increase their level of participation. And, of that group, chronic complainers must surely be at the top of the list.
Chronic complaining is a symptom. It may be a symptom of spiritual immaturity, or it may be a symptom that someone is not adequately participating in the life of the community. Either way, it behooves us to attend to their condition by helping them to get “too busy to complain”.
Franklin D. Roosevelt instituted the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) during the Great Depression. The purpose of the corps was to take unemployed workers and put them to work on worthwhile projects. The program benefited everyone; the workers, their families, their communities, and the nation. Giving significant responsibilities to those currently not employed in the ministry of the church has similar benefits; one of which is that those who are actively and enthusiastically engaged in building are not nearly as likely to become engaged in tearing down (complaining).