Personally, regularly, and consistently.
There are many good changes to be sought, but complainers aren’t typically leaders. So how are you personally contributing to the change you hope to see?
In 2009, I was deployed aboard the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU). I was a Corporal, and as such had deemed myself worthy of having a critical opinion of just about anything and everything Marine-Corps related. My command, my company, and the Marine Corps infantry as a whole were common targets.
In reality, I had a very narrow view of the Corps. There were many things that I didn’t know, and while my frustrations weren’t necessarily unwarranted, they were exaggerated.
So when it came time to create a “float book,” or a deployment-style high school yearbook, I naturally rolled my eyes. Not long thereafter, I found out that I would be assigned the responsibility of organizing my platoon’s picture page in the yearbook.
So, being me, I invested some considerable time in developing the wittiest captions I could muster up. I did so unaware that our company commander, a former infantry-enlisted Corporal himself, would be personally reviewing each platoon’s submissions.
Fighting to Train
My witty caption beneath a photo of a few Marines on line, aiming in on targets, was a proud creation in which I flipped the common military phrase, ‘training to fight,’ so that it instead read, ‘fighting to train,’ which I personally thought provided for a much more accurate description of our training climate. My CO wasn’t quite so amused.
Having summoned me to his office, the CO could have just chewed my ass and sent me on my boot way, quite rightly. However, I remain grateful that he instead took a moment to hear me out. He appreciated his non-commissioned officers (NCOs), and compassionately allowed me to vent my frustrations about our hurry-up-and-wait lifestyle and check-in-the-box training.
Captain Morosoff empathized with me that day, and then he asked me:
But what are you doing to fix it? What are you personally doing about it other than bitching and moaning and making witty remarks?
Sometimes I wish my pastor would say the same thing, because enjoyable and convenient as it is to chuck sarcastiballs from the bleachers, saying this is how it should and this is what you people should be doing, it’s not constructive. And in reality, I’d probably do the same thing or worse of a job if in their position.
It’s not wrong to be frustrated, or to desire change. But before we criticize our wives, our children, our employers, and our churches, maybe we ought to consider whether or not we’ve actually done anything personally to foster a difference.
I want the church to be more disciple-making oriented, but am I disciple-making oriented? Can the church look at my life and not need me to say a word in order to see an example of disciple-making? Can my wife spare the lecture from me on how she ought love and respect me, and instead see me loving and respecting her? Or am I just talking?
If it’s wrong and it can be made right, what beyond moaning and groaning am I personally doing about it? And if I’m not doing something to make the change I want to see, what can I start doing that doesn’t require the permission or endorsement of someone else?