Quit Complaining and Get Involved

get-involvedI have a complaint.  Actually, I have several complaints.  There are things I don’t like about my church, my kid’s school, my local government, my community, etc.  So I do what anyone does when they don’t like something.  I fuss about it to my wife, my friends, my social media connections and all the other people in my life who have absolutely nothing to do with what I’m fussing about.

Makes sense right?  If you’re frustrated with your local government take it to Facebook.  That always results in meaningful dialogue and social change.  If you’re upset with your kid’s school complain to all the other parents.  That’ll teach the administrators.  And if you’re upset with your church just sit at home and stew about it.  Then you can also get mad when no one calls to see what you’re mad about.

Ok, timeout.  I hope you’re reading sarcasm in the above paragraph because if not, you’re reading it wrong.  Complaining without involvement is ineffectual.  It’s just noise.  If you really want to get your concerns heard you have to get involved.  When that happens this happens…

  1. You gain understanding.  With more involvement comes more insight into an  organization’s mission and systems.  This is important because sometimes our complaints are not legitimate.  They’re based on misinformation or misunderstanding.  Involvement helps you see how the problems are currently being addressed and gives you more awareness of the unique challenges with solving them.
  2. You gain credibility.  You’re no longer talking about problems, you’re actively engaged in trying to provide solutions.  That earns you respect and a voice.  I’m ten times more likely to listen to someone who’s involved because I know they’re equally invested in the success of the organization.  They aren’t just trolling.  They genuinely want to see us improve.
  3. You gain results.  Isn’t that what you wanted in the first place?  You were complaining because you wanted something to change or improve or get better.  Only you were doing it in a way that rarely gets results.  If you get involved and take ownership you’re much more likely to create the outcomes you desire.  Action begets action.  Talking just begets more talking.

There’s certainly much to be gained through involvement but I have to warn you.  You’ll also lose something.  You’ll lose the capacity to think that all problems have simple solutions and quick answers.  You’ll lose some naivety and idealism.  You’ll lose the ability to point fingers at others because the responsibility now rests on your shoulders too. And guess what?  You’ll also become a target for all those uninvolved complainers!

Fact is it’s much easier to sit at home and fuss.  But if its real change you seek, it’s time to get involved.  Step up.  Your church needs you.  Your kid’s school needs you.  Your community needs you.  Quit complaining and get involved.

Note–this post was inspired by a small group discussion we had about some frustrations with the direction of our local community and this editorial (We Believe in Institutions).

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