There Is A Difference Between Complaining And Discussion. What Is It?

There Is A Difference Between Complaining And Discussion…What is it? By Kevin E. Jesmer 2-21-16.


I was able to sit back and think about Numbers chapter 11 in the Bible. This chapter brings to mind the question, “What is the difference between discussion and complaining in a community? The Israelites were facing hardships. They began to complain against Moses and against God. It got me thinking about complaining to those in authority verses discussion with mutual thankfulness to all that God is doing. I am particularly sensitive to this, because I spent twenty six years not feeling free to discuss things with my peers, unless I was rubber stamping something. Through my struggles I have come to realize that there is a difference between discussing something, that you are not completely onboard with the leadership with, and complaining. Let’s see.

Discussion is very important. As long as there are two human beings there are going to be discussions. Having a disagreement and wanting to discuss something with leadership is not complaining. It is a constructive. It is wanting to be able to contribute to the solution. It is taking up our role as contributors. Leadership has a responsibility to inform and to get people to come along with them on a journey. They try to shed light on the issues, gather opinions and through constant dialogue and prayer, come to some sort of understanding. There may be an agreement reached or the differing parties may agree to disagree. But everyone continues to live for the glory of God and move forward as a community. There is order and “good fruit” born out of the whole interaction.

Complaining is exactly that, complaining. It is a negative thing…an unconstructive element. It is accompanied by a sinful attitude. Complaining hinders faith. Complaining means you have forgotten the height which from which you have fallen. There is no respect with complaining. There is no desire to come to an agreement. We don’t want to be complainers.


I think that some leaders mistake the want for discussion as complaining. If we are not careful about this distinction, we can easily create two types of atmospheres in a community. First, the atmosphere where nobody speaks. There could be an atmosphere where no one feels comfortable talking or people simply “rubber stamp” everything that comes their way to avoid conflict or accusation. Eventually, a person may not be able to create and voice their own opinion at all. This type of dynamic should never happen in a community. Second, the atmosphere of disrespect. This is an atmosphere created with unrestrained complaining. This was going on among the Israelites. The people are very self seeking. They wanted their way, even it meant breaking relationships. They didn’t care about how much destruction ensues from their conflicts for they felt they were justified. There is little to no “give and take”. This type of atmosphere threatens the wellbeing of the entire community and must be checked. And so God checked it.


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