Why Complaining ISN’T Leading

10 ways you can morph from complainer to leader

We have become a nation of complainers rather than leaders. We think that by writing a blog post, or updating our Facebook status or linking to a provocative article we are leading change. All we’re really doing is adding to the noise.  Those who agree with us will nod their heads approvingly and hit the “Like” button while those who disagree will come after us in the comments, or worse, simply ignore our brilliance. There are people who make their living off of pointing out the errors they see all around them. They don’t recruit, they don’t develop, they don’t deploy; they just complain about those who do. (I understand the irony of writing this in a blog post, but please hear me out.)

There’s one Christian blogger in particular who drives me crazy. She is an excellent writer who often makes good points, but as far as I can tell her only contribution to the landscape is picking at specks in other people’s eyes. She caught my attention when she emailed my wife, whom she’s never met, vilifying her for participating in an online conference which the writer felt had too few women on their schedule. I’m still mystified how a woman not participating because not enough women are participating advances the cause. I see her name pop up often in the national media, always pointing out what the church and church leaders are doing wrong. I have yet to read how she is contributing to the solution.

My wife, Sherry, is a writer as well, but she doesn’t use her platform to point out the flaws of the people and institutions around her. She focuses on how she is growing and encouraging others to grow along with her. She doesn’t just write, however, she also leads. She currently leads an organization, Mothers of Preschoolers International, which trains thousands of women every year in how to lead within the context of their local church. When Sherry went to Kenya several years ago she saw an organization struggling to feed the AIDS orphans in their care. Rather than complain about the lack of funds and the mismanagement of resources, she formed a board to bring stability and hope to a small Christian school in Africa. In every problem Sherry looks for a way she can participate in a solution.

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Not all of us are called to lead non-profits or form boards, but we are all called to work for solutions. Here are ten ways you can morph from complainer to leader:

  1. If you are frustrated by your political leaders, rather than writing an angry status update or linking to some outrageous article, get involved. Volunteer in a campaign, vote in an election, run for office.
  2. If you think church leaders are missing the mark, get deeply involved in a church that is making a difference in your community. If you can’t find that church, then start one.
  3. If your church isn’t meeting your needs, rather than writing an anonymous note or sending a scathing email, start volunteering to meet someone else’s needs.
  4. If racial discrimination makes you crazy start a small group equally divided between minorities and racists. If you don’t know any minorities or racists, start there.
  5. If you think our education system is a joke volunteer at a school
  6. If you think the church should give more money to help the poor, give more money to help the poor.
  7. If you are frustrated over the way our military is treated, help a wounded veteran.
  8. If your pastor doesn’t spend enough time teaching from the Bible on Sunday mornings start a class teaching from the Bible on Sunday nights.
  9. If there aren’t enough women in leadership become (or support) a woman in leadership
  10. If there aren’t enough opportunities for young leaders become a young leader who creates opportunities for young leaders.

Jesus never called us to point out everyone else’s weaknesses, he called us to lead change.

“You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.”

So, rather than linking, blogging or updating the next time we’re outraged, let’s commit to becoming doers of good deeds.

Geoff Surratt
Geoff Surratt, having served Saddleback Church as Pastor of Church Planting and Seacoast Church as Executive Pastor, is now the Director of Exponential. (www.exponential.com) He also works with churches on strategy, structure and vision as a free agent church encourager and catalyst. He has over twenty-nine years of ministry experience in the local church and is the author of several books including The Multisite Church Revolution and 10 Stupid Things that Keep Churches from Growing.
  • Allan Calhoun


  • Mark Nowakowski

    Geoff…the list could go on and on. Thank you for your healing balm for our closed up hearts! Peace brother!