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The gift of a complaint …

TOXIN #1 – Criticism

Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. (Colossians 4:6)

A few years ago we started reading “A Complaint is a Gift” as a team at Redemption Press. The premise was the only way to know how to improve as a company is for customers to complain. Equally important was seeing it as a gift, rather than something to avoid, which was definitely my go-to up until that time. We took steps as a team to ask for honest feedback from our authors and vendors so that we could grow and improve in our communication and the ways we managed expectations in a transparent and authentic way.

The steps taught in this book was evident even within the Reconciliation Ministry that our church leadership is walking through with the denomination. Criticism is the first of four toxins that poison our unity as a church, as a family, as a marriage, or as a business. When unmet expectations have not been communicated, they bring a sense of frustration. If this is not handled in a Christlike manner, it forms into an idol in our heart that demands our obedience. As mentioned in my first post in this series entitled “Unmet Expectations”, if we allow that idol to form in our heart, we become demanding and judgmental, punishing the guilty party for how they hurt us.

From that choice of responding in an ungodly manner come four toxins the first of which is CRITICISM. If our heart is filled with this toxin, we launch a judgmental attack on the quality of the other person.

Have you ever gotten to a place where all you can see in the offender is what is wrong with them? You cannot see one good thing about them? Oh my, I have SO been there, and it is just SO TOXIC!

Would you believe the antidote to criticism is a genuine COMPLAINT?

Huh? How can that be?

The facilitator explained a healthy complaint, spoken softly with respect, can begin to dissipate the toxin flooding our heart. So, if someone missed the mark with you resulting in a misalignment of expectations, how do you complain with the right heart?

  • Express the reality without casting judgment.
  • Learn how to live out the fruit of the Spirit.
  • Take advantage of the fact that conflict gives you the opportunity to grow, emotionally and spiritually.

Do you have someone in your life that, hearing their name or just thinking of them causes you angst, sweaty palms, heightened blood pressure and the like? (To be clear, I’m not talking about someone who abused you or seriously sinned against you, I’m talking about someone who offended you by not meeting your expectations which then turned toxic because of the way you failed to communicate in a healthy way to resolve the conflict.)

I’d like to challenge you to take these action steps:

  1. Pray for a heart to communicate with conversation that is full of grace and seasoned with salt, filled with the fruit of the Spirit. In other words, not aggressive, confrontational or sarcastic.
  2. Write their name in your journal with a paragraph of how they offended you.
  3. Ask yourself the question – did I communicate my expectations to this person, or did I just assume they should know better?
  4. Think about how you might explain to them the way their behavior made you feel, using wording something like – “I feel like there’s a wedge between us and I want to confess that I have allowed myself to stay offended about the time you ____________. You probably didn’t mean to, but the way the conversation went about ___________ made me feel ___________, (disrespected, dishonored, unseen, unappreciated, etc.,).
  5. Pray for an opportunity to reach out to them and bring a godly complaint with the intentional hope of reconciliation.

Lord, help us all to do a spiritual inventory of broken relationships from our past and present that beg to be mended and then give us the courage to take action with each one as You direct.

Thanks for spending some time with me today!

Athena Dean Holtz
Welcome, I'm Athena!

I start each day by tithing the first hour to the Lord in prayer, reading the word, doing word studies of the Text, and asking God how I can live out what I am reading. This time is usually met with meditation on devotionals that are usually written by dead guys like Oswald Chambers, CS Lewis, Charles Spurgeon, AW Tozer, and Andrew Murray.

Right now, I’m reading a daily devotional with a friend called Tozer on the Almighty God for my focus for the day. It's fun to see individually what pulls us in to spur one another on to good deeds!

The Bible is filled with action steps to walk out in practical and intentional ways. This sets my day in motion to walk it out! I hope this is your heart, too.

Consider this a personal invitation to join me in this journey!

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