Leading From Complaints

Moses had over a million frustrated people complaining in the desert for a new menu, bottled water, and meat! No more Manna bread. He had it the worst, didn’t he?

Every leader will face complaints, but not all complaints are necessarily bad. If we develop a rash every time someone complains, we will become jaded to what could have been a turning point in ministry and leadership.

Ecclesiastes 7:21 reminds us: Also, do not take seriously all words which are spoken, so that you will not hear your servant cursing you.” Leaders are resilient and sometimes deaf … intentionally deaf.

But other times, it might do us well to listen.

In Acts 6:1, we find these words: “While the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint arose … because their widows were being overlooked in the daily serving of food.” One common denominator of growing ministries will be … problems! But it is not problems that will ruin us. It is how we deal with them that will be the truest test of them all. If we develop an aversion to complaints and problems, we will never lead. We might manage–we might even maintain for a length of time–but we will never lead.

We can deal with problems in several ways. Let me give you two.

The first is this:

The twelve summoned the congregation and dealt with it graciously. They faced the problem, saw that it was a credible concern, and without letting it dilute their roles, they resolved it. In fact, this was a turning point; it was the inaugural stages of developing a multiplicity of leaders.

And one of the first? Stephen.

Look at the response of the twelve:

“Therefore, brethren, select from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”

For the twelve, the problem and complaint that arose served only to confirm their calling to prayer and the ministry of the Word. Don’t let problems cause you to cave in. I have in the past, and it only served to fry my jets.

But here is a second way.

Later on in verse 9, we find a boisterous group called the Freedmen.

“But some men from what was called the Synagogue of the Freedmen … rose up and argued with Stephen… they secretly induced men to say, “We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and against God.”

When problems occurred, they secretly induced men toward opposition and stirred up the people. It ended in the death of Stephen.

Surely the Freedmen felt there were troubles at hand. They came against what they thought was problematic and their solution was to end it at the cost of lives and relationships.

I have been involved in both ways, and let me assure you that the second is not the pathway of choice. Recently, I had to write over a half dozen letter of repentance for having the heart of the Freedmen rather than the Twelve. I have a habit of fixing things, but sometimes things are not yet ready to be fixed. A leader is patient. A leader may know what to do, but as in music, timing is every bit as important as the notes.

It is easy to become unbalanced and demand the notes are hit without regard to timing. We end up finding that we’ve become enforcers of scores rather than makers of music.

Both groups wanted to resolve matters, but one preserved relationships and the other did not.

Remember, one of the common denominators of growing ministries will be problems and complaints. Lead well out of the complaints. Moses faltered between methods and it kept him out of the Promised Land.

Don’t miss Beulah Land.

The sands will get hot and the way will seem longer than necessary. When you are NOT the leader, you’ll need patience with your complaints. And when you ARE the leader, you’ll need patience with others’. If not, we may accomplish what we set out to accomplish, but there’ll be no one left!

It’s no fun coming across alone with only body bags in our wagons. Lead out of complaints well, and we will cross the Jordan one day together … with everyone in tact.

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