Thou shalt not complain.
You’re right. It’s not one of the 10 commandments. But the Bible certainly pumps out some wise words about not complaining all the time.
A church leader named Paul puts it like this:
“Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people.” (Philippians 2:14-15, NLT)
One of the things he’s saying is that even though complaining ad nauseum is normal for a lot of people, it shouldn’t be for you. Plus, being a person who complains all the time actually erodes your credibility in the eyes of others.
So assuming that you’d like to take a step in the direction of verbal light, I’d like to suggest something very down-to-earth:
The 7-Day No Complaint Challenge
I heard about it from Las Vegas author and pastor Jud Wilhite. Here’s what you do. Take a bracelet (or watch), and every time you complain about something irrelevant, change it from one wrist to the other.
Keep in mind that if you need to thoughtfully disagree with something or someone, there’s nothing wrong with that. Feel free to thoughtfully disagree with a friend, co-worker or government policy decision until the cows come home. Talking productively against an injustice in the world or a relationship that needs serious mending is a very good thing.
But the 7-Day No Complaint Challenge makes you more aware of what you’re saying, and it draws you away from soul-sucking quicksand of complaining about irrelevant things.
Like how so-and-so takes so long to return your emails.
Or how Joe Blow doesn’t have the incredible parenting finesse that you do.
Or how Missy Misserton always has better shoes and gadgets than she can afford.
Simply switching a bracelet or watch from one wrist to the other raises your awareness about how often you’re complaining.
You’re right. It’s so simple and practical it almost seems ridiculous.
Wilhite explains his thinking like this: “Complaining is like scratching your arm when it’s been in contact with poison ivy; it may bring some immediate relief, but it makes the situation worse in the end.”
A few weeks ago my 8-year old daughter made me a bracelet. I’m going to use it for the next seven days.
This little experiment isn’t revolutionary. But I’m pretty sure it will make your words sound more like light…
And less like death.
Join me and take the 7-Day No Complaint Challenge.
- A version of this blog first appeared in my 1-minute daily devotional called “Up!” – Click here to sign up
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