No matter where you live, it’s easy to find yourself complaining about it. The traffic is terrible, the weather is dreary, the economy is falling apart, the government is corrupt… The human heart is an expert at finding a reason to complain.
As we’ve discussed over the last two posts, such complaining puts our God-ordained mission at risk and violates our creation mandate to cultivate prosperity wherever we are. Today, we want to explore some ways to kill complaints aimed at where you live.
Before diving in, notice that a common thread through this post will be gratitude. Odds are, a thankful heart is one without complaint. Many of these practical steps will be marked by gratitude.
The Challenge: Choose at least one of the following action steps and put it into practice over the next week.
Five Ways to Kill Complaining
#1. Keep a Gratitude Journal: Taking time to reflect on what you have to be thankful for is a key step to killing complaints. A journal of gratitude also helps you see where God is working in and through your life and the life of your community. Once a day, or once a week, jot down something about your community that you’re thankful for.
#2. Thank Somebody: Whether it’s a local business, charity, government office, or church, write a note of thanks expressing your gratitude for their labor in your community.
#3. Write Positive Letters to Your Local Paper: We live in a time of cynicism, and a lot of our news outlets reflect this. Challenge this cultural motif by writing a positive letter to your local newspaper’s editorial section.
#4. Volunteer: Complaining about your community’s woes while sitting on your couch makes you part of the problem. Volunteering with a local organization, charity, or your church helps you become part of the solution. Frederick Buechner wrote, “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” Find whatever it is that most frustrates you in your community and then volunteer to do something about it.
#5. Pray: God is in the business of redeeming and restoring our communities as we work to bring prosperity to them. God matches our prayer efforts with showers of grace and change. Warren, Ohio is undergoing some cosmic shifts because a group of local pastors put aside their differences and started praying. Jesus teaches us a specific way to pray in Matthew 9:37-38:
Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.’
Pray for your community that God would mobilize His people and His governments to bring change to your community. Remember, too, that prayer is also an antidote to the complaining heart.
It’s Our Turn
Ultimately, God leaves the state of our communities in our hands. He looks at us to be the agents of change–the salt and light of the earth–and gladly partners with us when we choose mission and service. We can’t wait on the world to change; Jesus is waiting on us to change.
Identify which of the above five steps strikes you as particularly challenging? Why do you think so? Respond by posting a comment!