One of my friends at church was going through a difficult time at work many years ago. He had gradually been promoted until he found himself working lead on major projects. The company had been bought out and though they kept him because of his experience and expertise he was demoted from his prestigious position.
He told me how it was a sting to his ego and how discouraging to his spirit it was. He had worked hard to be productive and now was replaced by someone younger and with less experience. It seemed to be unjust and was difficult to swallow.
Months later it was springtime and baseball season began. I coached little league at a nearby park and practice had started. One of the motivations for our family being involved was that we would be a positive influence in our community and a witness for Jesus Christ.
After a practice one night I was talking to a coach on another team at our park. (We coached the same age, but had so many kids we had to form two teams and each of us coached in the same division and age group). As we talked I discovered he worked at the same company where my friend at church had been demoted.
I shared with the coach that I had a friend that worked at the same place and he asked me his name. When I said my friend’s name, the coach didn’t speak for several seconds.
Finally, he said, “I know him; our company wasn’t fair to him. We removed your friend from a place of leadership and he has had the best attitude about it. Even though we didn’t treat him properly he has been great. I was one of those that financially invested and bought the company out; I feel especially badly about what happened”.
The coach had no idea how deeply it had hurt my friend. He had only observed the kind response of a man exhibiting a positive spirit after being treated poorly.
One of my goals was to influence people for Christ at the ballpark. What kind of influence would I have had with the coach if my buddy complained? I had more credibility because my friend had a good spirit in spite of being disappointed. And he had even more credibility at work for his Christian faith.
People watch us and listen to us more than we realize. They are not only paying attention to our actions, but our attitude. Sometimes we do the right thing, but we complain about it. Whatever good that comes from our actions is minimized by our negativity. This is why the Bible warns about complaining; it hinders your ability to influence others for Christ.
“Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world”. (Philippians 2:14-15)
The word “murmurings” mean “to grumble, to have a grudging spirit”. It carries the idea of doing something with reluctance and then complaining because you had to do it.
God forbids griping that we might be “blameless”. This doesn’t mean we are sinless and perfect, but that we are “without fault”. This means people cannot find fault for our having a negative attitude.
A pessimistic, griping, negative person forfeits his influence. People are not just looking for something different, but something preferable! The legitimacy of our conversion is measured in terms of our attitude as much as our actions by those around us.
Rejoicing establishes and enhances your testimony and influence. Complaining diminishes and destroys it. Adversity is a platform from which you can preach your best sermon and give the most glory to God – if you do not murmur.
Griping poisons those around us. This is most tragic when it’s our family. Whenever we express contentment and gratitude we are a blessing; when we don’t we fail to influence others for God and good.
I have a friend that has been battling cancer for about twenty years. I asked him if he ever struggled, asking God “why” he had cancer. He didn’t miss a beat as he replied, “Rick, I’ve thought about it and my attitude is ‘Why not me?’. Others have cancer, too, so I don’t see myself as an exception”.
Oh, by the way, this is the same person that had lost his position of leadership at work. As long as I’ve known him he has had a good attitude, not complaining, but making the best of what has come his way. He has chosen to live a life of blessing, being grateful for God’s goodness rather than complaining when things don’t go his way.
Because of that, he had made a positive difference wherever he goes. May we do the same today by refusing to complain.
This is something that took me awhile to learn, and I still struggle to walk it out some days. I often view myself as a “realist with an optimistic view” these days. — I see and don’t deny there are problems BUT try to find a positive way to move forward.