How Whining Can Help Your Ministry

There’s a diner up in Avalon, NJ that sells t-shirts with a no whining symbol on it.  I was tempted to buy it for my ministry, but then decided it would not be helpful.  Even though it can drive us crazy, it can be quite helpful.  It’s a form of feedback, that if approached in the right light can help us identify:

  • Faulty Communication – Most complaints come from a lack of clarity and consistency in communication. So before you blame someone for not listening, examine whether or not you could have been clearer.  Also look at how you communicated and whether you could have reminded people a few more times.
  • Deeper Relationships – A minister, parent or teen might whine about something that seems shallow but take a deeper look.  In reality they might be venting, so before you go brushing them off take some time to listen and get to the source of the problem.  It’s the perfect opportunity to start pastoring.
  • Worn Out Systems and People – If you continuously grind, if you never rest you are going to wear everything and everyone out.  Have turnover in your ministry?   Look at how often you take a step back to pause or celebrate.  When you can rest you can refresh the spirits and minds of the people who serve alongside of you.  

Whining is going to happen in ministry and while it can feel and be destructive it can also point to deeper issues.  Ideally all we want is constructive criticism from people but that’s not going to happen.  We need to approach each situation of whining with patience and an open ear.  Sometimes it’s a deep issue other times it’s something we can just brush away.  Just remember whining happens for a reason you just need to know how to respond to it.

How do you respond to whining?

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  • CJ says:

    Good stuff, Chris. One note of caution about parental whining- Parents only see ministry in terms of how it effects their child. As a pastor you have to see how it impacts everyone. But everyone does deserve to be heard, and complaints do help point out flaws. Thanks!

  • CJ great point, I’m using the term whining loosely for that very reason. I think as youth pastors we can get defensive whenever someone comes in to vent, complain, construct or whine in our presence. Even though the method might not be favorable it could point out something very helpful. The trick comes from discerning what’s constructive and destructive feedback. Any thoughts?