That’s meant to be a hypothetical question. But it’s one we need to keep asking ourselves when we get into “complain mode”. Have you noticed how draining and energy wasting it is to complain? Complaining really saps the energy out of you. It leaves you feeling tired and spent. In other words, it’s a big waste of energy.
The question should be, “Am I going to expend any energy towards actually resolving this problem?” If I’m not… then it’s not worth expending any energy complaining about the problem.
So when someone comes and complains about what someone said, or what someone did… just interrupt and ask them… “Before you go on, do you have any plans to go and speak to this person and encourage them to do it differently next time? No? Do you expect me to? No? Then maybe it’s not worth wasting energy wingeing about them to me.”
If you want to help people grow as Christians, what you really want is for them to change… change they idols, their ideals, their dreams and desires. If you want to see more people saved – that is – to grow your flock numerically, what you really will see is change… new people means new relationships, new needs, new opportunities. Growth (in both senses of the word) means change. A change in character or culture or both!
Have you ever wondered if the reverse is true? Not every time, but most of the time? Does change open the door to growth?
It certainly seems true when Christians face unexpected “change”… suffering, persecution or trials… by God’s grace it leads to growth. Maybe its time to change something and open an opportunity for growth?
I heard of a psych who goes into jails to counsel murders. He noted how they reach a point where they realise the irreversible nature of what they’ve done. They can’t reverse it. He used the phrase “they realise they have changed the universe forever”.
That’s true. An eternal change has been made to the universe.
But that’s true of everything we do isn’t it? Every action, every word, even every thought is something we can’t actually “take back”. What’s done is done. And it will remain done that way for eternity.
The cross recognises this and offers its own eternal solution. An eternal righteousness for eternal sins.
If you want to see people change, its pretty rare that simply telling them to change will do anything. Telling people what they should think rarely gets them thinking something different to what they already do.
But reflecting back to them what they think… that’s powerful.
It requires asking loads of questions, trying to get inside their mind, see the world from their point of view… even though you know its skewed. And reflect that to them… “So what you’re saying is, you see the world this way…”
When you genuinely reflect back to someone what they’re saying, they usually start their own self-reflection. “Is that what I’m saying? Am I happy with that? It sounds like what I said but maybe I don’t want to think that.”
An added bonus to this is that, hopefully by God’s grace as they read God’s word, they will see the correction themselves. They will create their own solution, they will decide their own course of action.
And yes, that might have been the very thing you were going to “tell” them in the first case, but oh, don’t people get behind their own ideas more than others?!?