Do you frequently encounter a complainer in your life? How does each interaction make you feel?
The second difficult person is the direct hitter known as the complainer. A complainer whines for at least four reasons: (1) he fears being misunderstood; (2) he focuses on the negative; (3) he fights to be right, seeing issues in life as black and white (right or wrong); and (4) he frustrates his perfectionist self from his unmet, unrealistically high expectations. The right word at the right time is comforting and priceless.
The complainer lives in fear of being misunderstood. Consequently, he often over-describes issues in such detail that he leaves the listeners more confused than before he began to speak. The complainer focuses on and remembers the negative. Although 90 percent of a person, task, or object might be positive, he focuses on and analyzes the 10 percent that is negative, frequently defining the whole as such. This often discourages those he encounters.
The complainer’s desire for security comes with an embedded passion to be right. Consequently, he fights to be mistake-free, creating neat, tidy compartments of right and wrong. This compartmentalizing creates boundaries that did not previously exist, often times leaving others feeling compartmentalized as well.
The complainer is a perfectionist who routinely imposes unrealistic expectations on himself and others. As a result, he is often frustrated and so are those around him. Consequently, we must be careful not to complain ourselves. The Apostle Paul taught: “Do everything without complaining or arguing” (Philippians 2:14).
In order to lead the complainer, we must listen to his heart — his will, intellect, emotions, and spirit. These four chambers of the heart can be discovered by learning his choices, thoughts, feelings, and even his prayers.
Read Luke 5:30-39 to discover how Jesus listened to and led a group of religious complainers who whined about Jesus and His disciples dining with tax collectors and “sinners” at Matthew’s party. Jesus connected, deflected, reflected, and directed, implementing four wise practices. He: (1) comforted, (2) encouraged, (3) rephrased absolute statements with a question, and (4) taught excellence rather than perfection.
The next time you encounter a complainer, apply Jesus’ four practices. It won’t be you leading the complainer through listening; rather, it will be the Spirit of Christ in you.