Wednesday, April 5, 2017

What's With the Whining?

What's with the men of Ephraim? In Judges 8:1 the men of Ephraim asked Gideon "Why did you fight the Midianites and didn't call us?" Recall that Gideon asked for men to fight and received a huge response - 32,000 men. It's highly implausible that the men of Ephraim were excluded from this call. Gideon handled their question with tact and diplomacy and diffused what could have become an ugly situation.

In Judges 12, they made a similar accusation to Jephthah - "Why'd you fight the children of Ammon and not tell us?" They also threatened to burn Jephthah's house down.

Jephthah seems to be a no-nonsense, cut to the chase kind of guy because he responded by saying, "I called for you and you didn't help, so God helped and delivered me."

Then Jephthah ended this nonsense once for all - he and his men fought against the men of Ephraim. Apparently, the men of  Ephraim were better talkers than fighters for the scripture gives the impression that they were easily captured. Even in war,  the men of Ephraim tried to be coy and evasive but Jephthah was one step ahead of them. He asked the Ephraimites to pronounce Shibboleth knowing that most of them did not pronounce the h due to a regional dialect. (It would be the equivalent of asking someone to pronounce tomato - depending on where you are from you would pronounce it differently). If you said Sibboleth it identified you as an Ephraimite and you met your end that day. 42,000 Ephraimites were killed that day and we never hear of the men of Ephraim complaining again.

According to 'Psychology Today' whining is when the dissatisfaction voiced is trivial or inconsequential and not worthy of special attention. There is a distinction between complaining and whining; whining is worse. Complaining involves voicing fair and legitimate dissatisfaction with the goal of attaining a resolution or remedy. When we voice legitimate dissatisfaction but do so without the goal of attaining a resolution we are merely venting.

The Ephraimites were cowards and chronic complainers who spoke up after the fact. This type makes leadership challenging because as a leader you have to assess the validity of a whiner's complaint and then determine how to address it. Gideon diffused it but Jephthah got rid of it. Instead of whining after the fact, state your case and your willingness to assist, when plans are being made so that it is clear what your motives are and where your heart lies. Complaining and whining especially after the fact can lead to unintended dire consequences. Whining can wear a leader out - think parent and child or team leader and team members. A whiner is not usually viewed in a positive light. As a parent, if you have a child that's a constant whiner, it wears on you (and of course we can't handle our whining child like Jephthah did though a similar thought may run across our minds (but that may just be me)).

There's another interesting lesson here - you are known by how you speak. I have an accent, so when I speak one of the first questions asked is "Where am I from?" This is a loaded question because I'm often not sure how to initially respond.  As humans when we interact with a youngster who speaks well and does not whine we almost automatically wonder who is this child and who are his parents. You want to see the source of the child's behavior; in the same manner, our speech should shine as Christians. As a Christian, you can be clearly identified by how you speak.

Jephthah judged Israel for 6 years - one of the shortest on record, and then he died.

If you are a whiner, sincerely submit this to Lord. This may be a hard habit to change but you may benefit sooner than you anticipate as whining endears you to no one. As a leader, be prayerful and mindful as you determine the best course of action for dealing with whiners.

The words you say will either acquit you or condemn you. Matthew 12:37

Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions. 
Matthew 7:20

Are you a whiner? If you're a whiner, why do you whine? As a leader, how do you diffuse whining?


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  1. Nylse, there is such good truth and encouragement here. I'm always praying for his Spirit to enable me to be a light for Him, but complaining and whining are such easy traps to fall into. Thank you for this reminder that how I speak is one of the most evident ways to glorify Him. Amen!

  2. Oh, yes! I know this to be so true and do not want to whine, yet I find that it crawls right into my mouth and out! Words that cannot be taken back. I do my best to keep those words from escaping. I am 69 and still learning! Thanks for a fine lesson with great men to be guides.

  3. Whining not only sucks the life out of others, it sucks the life out of our own selves! Great post, Nylse!
    Blessings and smiles,

  4. You did a great job differentiating complaining from whining. You are so right that whining is not taken seriously. However, a legitimate complaint rendered in the right spirit can lead to positive changes for everyone. Thanks for drawing my attention to a passage I haven't thought much about before!

  5. At one point in my life, I realized I was complaining a lot. (Which based on your definitions above, it was probably actually whining.) These days the Lord is faithful to nudge me when I'm complaining, but the thing that disappoints me most is when I hear the nudge and continue with my complaint. sigh. Thankfully I'm not quite the complainer anymore, PTL. :) Good word today, Nylse, thanks for sharing. :)

  6. Yes, whining is worst, it comes after complaining and when that doesn't work in getting ones way, they start to whine about it.

  7. What a great reminder. It's so easy to fall into mindset of whining. I have to be guarded of this all the time. I want to be an example to my children,grandchildren,and all who are watching and listening. I don't want to have a complaining spirit.

  8. What is a struggle for many is that fine line from a complaint to a whine. When wrapped in emotion, it is easy to have a blind eye to our words coming out in a whine. Great reminder from Scripture that we should guard our words.

  9. Thanks for pointing this story out. I had forgotten it. I talk to my kids about the Israelites complaining and whining. It is a hard thing to deal with!

  10. Interesting point on differentiating between whining and complaining. Good job!

  11. Nylse - I am so sorry, it has taken me a whole week to stop by and comment from #TuneInThursday linkup last week. I was away at a Conference since last week and the wifi was practically non-existent.

    Oh boy, whining such a hard thing to deal with as a leader. IN our home, my husband is always saying to our kids, this is a whine free zone. LOL but its so true, I don't want to listen to someone whining.. if you have a valid complaint, then let's talk it out as adults, but whining doesn't get you very far ... ever. Thanks for sharing you thoughts and Again thank you for linking up last week, and I hope to see you today at #TuneInThursday


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