Are You a Complainer or a Contender?


Many folks see a tragic story on the news, hear a bit of juicy gossip, or suffer a personal set back and their immediate reaction is to complain. I suppose that we are all welcome to our own opinions, but have you ever thought about the good that complaining NEVER does? I mean really where does complaining get us? I’m not saying, “Just shut up and accept it.” What I am really arguing for is instead of just wasting breath on powerless words why not do something about it? Get up off the couch and make a change. Be a contender for a cause.

Sometimes life can seem like a game of dodge ball, something is always being hurdled your way.  There are two ways to play the game. You can dodge everything that comes your way (and effectively save your own skin) or you can stare down your opponents who are throwing the ball and risk getting hit for a chance to catch the ball which will eliminate an opponent and bring someone back into the game from your team.

Complainers just grumble about all the stuff coming their way. They are Monday morning quarterbacks who can tell you every wrong move the coach or players made the day before, but could never play the game themselves.  Contenders take the same grievances that a complainer has and does something about it.  They volunteer, they participate in finding solutions, they petition their local government, they raise money for research, they blog to raise awareness, they passionately pursue avenues that will change the situation.  Contenders make a difference.

But be warned. Contending is far more tiring than just complaining.  It takes time and energy to volunteer, blog with a cause, start an organization, etc.  Just because you contend doesn’t mean that you will win in your lifetime. Some battles are bigger than others. Especially battles where real people are involved. Sometimes it takes generations to change (just think about where our nation was on slavery less than two centuries ago and civil rights 50 years ago).  However, being a contender does make a difference.  You may not change the tide of illiteracy in your local school this year, but you can make a difference in the life of one or two kids and for them it will be all the difference in the world.

Along with many avenues through my church, I’m also invested by volunteering in two of our local schools. In the elementary school I’m helping kids learn to read and I mentor at our middle school.  What about you?  Where are you contending to make a difference? Who are you helping to get back in the game?

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16 thoughts on “Are You a Complainer or a Contender?

  1. Contending to make a difference for (older) children stuck in our foster care system who usually age out of the system because adopting younger children is the preferred status. After adopting two teens,(yes, the road is never easy and it’s tiring!) these two are hoping to do the same when they become adults. 🙂
    Thanks for sharing this…always need these reminders.

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  2. Very stimulating. Comes at a time when I need it the most.

    But sometimes we are victims of circumstances. One thing after another falls out of place and before you know it you are exposed where you are most vulnerable.
    Times like these, you have to contend with your own self. Assure yourself you shall overcome.
    Remind yourself something better and bigger awaits.

    Thanks for this.

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  3. That’s a great post; I’m really enjoying your blog. It is true that contending seems to require more energy than complaining, but complaining doesn’t give any energy back like contending does.

    So, I believe complaining steals more vitality in the long run and sucks the life out of everyone who has to listen too.

    I’m contending our institutional food system – you should too : )

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  4. I enjoy reading your post and today’s blog especially. I have a relative [no names given] that their whole conversation is complaining, i.e. how they have been mistreated, hurt, how they have been overlooked,etc. To tell the truth, I drains me!! Better to give a word of encouragement!

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  5. I always enjoy your blog. I’m certainly glad I found it. I would like to add a word if you don’t mind, and that word is worry. Worrying is like the nasty little brother of complaining. It does absolutely no more good, and tends to keep people paralyzed.

    I feel like starting my blog has certainly helped me to become more of a contender. In my past weight loss attempts, I would have already been done. By blogging, I am constantly thinking about completing a workout or having a good meal so that I can report back.

    I haven’t really thought much about volunteering, but I will be coaching my sons Upward basketball team starting next week. I think I will look for other ways to volunteer since all of this movement is giving me more energy. it’s amazing how simply moving can help turn a complainer into a contender.

    Thanks for your ongoing inspirations!

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  6. Great post. My husband and I sponser a young man in Ethiopia through http://www.compassion.org. We’ve been sending support for close to 7 years now. Who knows how many people this young man will touch with the skills and education he has aquired. It is an honor to make a difference in someone else’s life.

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  7. Only yesterday I was telling this to my friend who always complains about getting stuck in traffic. It used to surprise me how come she never realizes that complaining is a waste of time & energy. And there are many others who do the same. Its not easy not to complain, but once you try focusing that energy on something else, you feel contented :-). Loved the post. Keep writing :-D.

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  8. Hi Jonathan.

    Thanks for a great post. I’m not quite sure how you define complaining? One thing is to complain about activities, Ngo’s that you’re not a part of. I agree with your conclusion there – shout up or start involve yourself. But what if you are involved already?

    Ex. my wife and I clean the house, she complains about my work, it’s not her standard – what can she do but complain, we are equals and work together, but she feels I’m lazy?

    Do you understand my question? Can complaining be a sign about being involved, but expect more from the other involved?

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  9. @ Caspian Dawn. Not really in my place to answer that. However if you would pardon me.
    As in your case, complaining can also come from disregarding someone else’s work or viewing it as below par. There are also other ‘forms’ of complaining some of the situations being rare. I would suggest you both reach a compromise between her standards and yours.

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  10. @Cross D. Guess you’re right, I might be wrong calling it complaining. English is not my first language, so I guess I’d defined the word to wide. I’d rather say my wife and I had an argue and found a compromise. Thanks for clearing that out.

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