Complainers

Image courtesy of Ryan Hyde

Image courtesy of Ryan Hyde

I read a post a while back on Phil Cooke’s blog that struck a chord with me. You can read the post here, and if you look at the date, you will get some idea of how long ideas sometimes sit in my queue before I get to writing the post. They say the best comedy is funny because there’s so much truth to it. I think the same is true of really good blog posts; it’s powerful because it’s true. 

Complaining Doesn’t Help

I had a friend who, when asked how he was would say, “Can’t complain. Doesn’t do any good anyway.” I always thought that was interesting. He really did try not to complain much, and I think it was because he realized it didn’t really help. According to Phil’s post, 78% of the people who were fired from their jobs last year were fired not because they weren’t good at what they did, it was because they couldn’t get along with others. He asks a poignant question; “How much time do you spend complaining about a problem to people who can’t solve it?”

When You’re a Hammer, Everything Looks Like a Nail

Technical artists are problem solvers. We come up with creative solutions to all kinds of crazy things. Sometimes we’re figuring out how to execute a creative service idea and sometimes we’re figuring out how to cram a 40 input band into a 32 input board. With no extra budget. 

But the thing that can be tricky is that after a while, everything starts to look like a problem. When something isn’t done the way we’d like to see it, it’s a problem. When someone has an idea for a service opener, it’s a problem. When we don’t get the budget we think we need or deserve, it’s a problem. 

And the problem with problems is that we tend to focus on them instead of a solutions. 

You Solve Problems

As you consider all the things that are “problems” at your church, remember that you are a problem solver. Instead of simply complaining about it, come up with a solution. Your solution may not be implemented, but at least you were working on helping instead of simply complaining. We can either complain a lot and never see anything get better, or we can come up with a solution. 

As a boss, one of the things that was really frustrating to me was when my reports simply complained about how hard their job was. On the other hand, when one of my guys came into my office and said, “Here’s a problem we’re having, and here is how I propose we solve it,” he was my hero. After a few of those interactions, it become, “This was a problem, and I already fixed it.” Those are guys I keep around. The complainer? Not so much. 

So rather than complaining to people at your level on the org chart—which may only be the facilities guy in many churches—start having constructive conversations with people up the food chain to see if you can develop a solution. Not only do solutions-oriented people get things done, they become invaluable to a good organization. Those are the guys who don’t get downsized.

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