Tag Archives: Complaint

Leadership and Rabble Cravings

The rabble with them began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailing and said, “If only we had meat to eat!
Numbers 11:4 (NIV)

Throughout my life journey I’ve had the privilege of serving in numerous leadership positions from small groups to decent sized organizations. Leading others can be both a joy and a curse and it is almost always a challenge. When you step into the spotlight of leadership you immediately become an easy target.

This morning as I started reading the chapter I immediately laughed to myself. We just read at the end of yesterday’s chapter that the Hebrew tribes had finally embarked on their journey through the wilderness to the promised land.  We’re only four verses into journey and people are complaining. Not only are there complaints, but I found it humorous that the author describes the complainers as “rabble” driven by their “cravings.”

Complaints are part of the territory for any leader. Sometimes the complaints are well-founded and point to critical needs that need to be contemplated and addressed by leadership. There are also complaints that arise from disgruntled members whose focus is less about the vision, mission, or good of the whole and more about their individual felt needs and self-centric perceptions. When you’re busy trying to lead a major group effort, these grumblers can be maddeningly frustrating to manage. They drove Moses to such madness that he asked God to kill him rather than have to deal with them. Even God’s reply sounds like an exasperated parent dealing with whining children:

“Tell the people, Consecrate yourselves. Get ready for tomorrow when you’re going to eat meat. You’ve been whining to God, ‘We want meat; give us meat. We had a better life in Egypt.’ God has heard your whining and he’s going to give you meat. You’re going to eat meat. And it’s not just for a day that you’ll eat meat, and not two days, or five or ten or twenty, but for a whole month. You’re going to eat meat until it’s coming out your nostrils. You’re going to be so sick of meat that you’ll throw up at the mere mention of it.”

I’m reminded of whiners and complainers I’ve had the opportunity to manage over the years. I confess that the word “rabble” seems an apt moniker in some cases. In every case, however, I have to recognize that they were/are not evil individuals or bad people. I think today’s chapter is a great object lesson in the fact that whiners and complainers are often individuals discomforted by their own felt needs. These poorly managed inner cravings get expressed as tantrum-like complaints and childish demands that steal leaders’ time, energy, and attention away from more important matters.

This morning I’m encouraged by the truth that Moses, and it appears even God Himself, can reach a point of exasperation. I’m reminded that more than once Jesus expressed exasperation (i.e. “How long shall I put up with you?” Lk 9:41). When I as a leader experience craving-driven whines I am in good company.

I’m also reminded this morning that listening to and addressing complaints is part of every leader’s job description. It comes with the territory and being a good leader means managing complaints, including the craving-driven whines of self-centered rabble. Jesus said if you want to be a good leader you have to be a good servant, even to those can be frustrating and distracting.

God, grant me wisdom, patience and grace in the positions of leadership to which I have been called. Help me to serve well, love well, and lead well – even in my periods of utter exasperation.

featured photo courtesy of Tamara via Flickr

Chapter-a-Day Psalm 18

Thank You Trash...
Thank You Trash… (Photo credit: Daniel Slaughter)

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!
    His faithful love endures forever.
Psalm 18:1 & 29 (NLT)

Wendy and I found ourselves in conversation yesterday about our blessings. We were discussing a person whose Facebook posts seem endlessly full of “glass half empty” angst at how difficult life is for them. It prompted a great discussion between us about blessing and thanksgiving. Even looking back at my blog posts and Facebook posts, I think about what they say about my attitudes in every day life. I’ve been griping a lot about the travel industry lately as I’ve gotten delayed and rerouted in my business travels. It’s so easy to fall into griping mode in my momentary frustration and ignore the fact that I’m so grateful for a great job and wonderful clients who hire me.

Everyone’s life is full of hardship on different levels, and we all need to vent once in a while when we’re feeling burdened. God tells us to cast our cares on Him because He cares for us. But, even when I’m going through a tough time I try to remind myself each and every day how abundantly blessed I am. In a land where Thanksgiving is celebrated as a once a year holiday, I attempt to celebrate it every day in my spirit through my prayers and my attitude.

Today, I’m thankful for the abundant blessings I take for granted. Things like life, health, safety, home, loving family, wonderful friends, good community, clean water, food, air conditioning, and choices.

Chapter-a-Day Matthew 11

sad boy
Image by woodleywonderworks via Flickr

“How can I account for this generation? The people have been like spoiled children whining to their parents….” Matthew 11:16 (MSG)

Before I read the chapter this morning, I was writing my “morning pages.” I was letting pen fly over the paper, jotting down what was on my mind. A lot of mornings, my stream of consciousness chronicle of inner monologue becomes a dialogue with God somewhere along the way and my morning pages become a letter to God. That happened this morning.

When I got to the verse above, and read Jesus’ description of His generation, I had a sudden pang of conscience. The words I’d just written in my morning pages were a whole lot of whining. I whined about this and I whined about that. “God, why don’t you…. God, why haven’t you…. God, I wanna….” Whine, whine, whine.

I think God is a loving Father and cares intimately about my feelings. He is not surprised, nor does He mind me pouring out my whining heart to Him. I am His child and He loves me. But, I also know that every parent hits a point where they get sick of the whining. It doesn’t get anyone anywhere when there’s plenty of things that need to be done.

Thanks for the reminder, God. Today, I’m choosing to stop whining and choosing to turn my focus to the things I know must be accomplished.

Enhanced by Zemanta