It only takes one worm spread throughout the apple to ruin the apple. And it only takes one or two people to spread evil.
A little yeast works through a lot of dough.
As I’m reading through the Torah, time and again a couple of people have turned the masses:
- Some people complained to Aaron and he led them in the idolatrous worship of calves (Ex 32)
- Some “contemptible people” led the others to complain about the food conditions of having to eat only manna in the desert and stirred up the Israelite community (Num 11)
- The ten spies were overcome by fear of the people of the land they wanted to take and spread their fear to the whole Israelite community (Num 14).
If you’ve ever been in leadership you know the immense pressure you feel to make the “few,” the complainers resolved in their complaint. There’s that desire in us for peace but there’s the issue of people will never happy.
In fact that’s the nation of the US now. The few make a big noise politically and now new laws care more about the minority than the masses. It’s troublesome.
Here in the Bible it only took a few vocal minority to influence the greater Israelite community and lead them to despise the ways of the Lord.
- Why isn’t Moses coming down from the mountain. Maybe he died and we’re sitting here like fools!
- Why are we only getting manna! Doesn’t God know we need more nutrition than this?
- Why does God want to send us to our deaths and enslave our children? Why didn’t he just kill us in Egypt or in the desert? Would that not have been better.
The thing with such complaints is that there’s a grain of truth to it. It’s taking genuine situations but seeing them from a perspective of fear and not faith. It’s the looking for comfort in the difficult and wanting ease from hardship rather then commitment and long-suffering.
It doesn’t take much to infect the many.
First we must make sure that we aren’t one of the “few.” It’s so easy to go to the place of complaining when we are uncomfortable. We complain and don’t even realize it. And it spreads greater than we understand.
“Do everything without complaining or arguing” (Php 2:14) is a Scripture that is a practice we must grow in.
I must confess that this is a journey for me.
Second, when we are in leadership, we must not cave-in to the complainers but continue to lead in faith. There will always be the complainers that will test us. They will always be present among us. But we must lead and now follow their lead.
Third, we must obey the Lord. I remember reading a book called “Out of the Darkness” where a group of believers were escaping political and religious persecution. Together they crept out into the night and escaped.
Everytime they came to a turn they asked the Lord which direction to go and they went that way. But people began to complain to the leaders that it seemed like they were wandering in circles.
At one point the leaders gave in to the complainers and they turned left instead of right. They hit an emergency crisis because the way they chose had no water. In a tragedy of events, an infant died from that lack. A human life was lost.
Especially in times of crisis we cannot let the voice of the complainers turn us away from the voice of the Lord. Moses did that and it cost him seeing the Promised Land.
Complaining is something we struggle with in our own hearts, and if not handled correctly, can weigh heavily on the heart of a leader. It is a deadly force.
Sometimes complaining can alert us to a problem. So we don’t want to stamp it out. But we must instruct the people and one another to deal with it not in the spirit of complaining, but rightly handling perceived problem.