404 How The Break Room Is Like The Blog World

How The Break Room Is Like The Blog World

When I worked in corporate America, I learned that there was one key element to fitting in. You had to develop your ability to complain in the break room.

Blog World/Break Room

Commiseration was a key point of solidarity. Over warmed up Hot Pockets, I discovered that the degree to which you hated your job was equivalent to the number of years in the same department.

In my 5 years on the job, I did find some solace in commiseration. At first it was a way to realize that I wasn’t alone. I needed to know that I wasn’t the only one frustrated with how the company did business in certain areas. But then it just became a way to blow off steam.

After an especially heated conversation with a customer or employee in another department, complaining was a cathartic exercise. It was a temporary release of frustration to completely berate the object of my vexation without actually having to confront the issue.

Five years later when I had another job opportunity, I handed in my letter of resignation faster than the drip coffee could percolate.

Changing Your Mind

I see a parallel of my work situation in the church. I realize that there are a lot of problems in the church. It’s easy to complain about them. There’s a temptation to commiserate with others in the blog world as we feast on DiGiorno’s and disappointment.

At first it feels comforting. We need to feel like we’re not alone with what we’re feeling. We need to know that we’re not crazy. We need to know that maybe someone else is feeling frustrated too.

But we can’t stay there either. Because just like my fellow workers, the longer you stay in that job, the more you’re going to resent it. Eventually you’ll find something else and repeat the cycle.

But until we change our mind about the situation, the dissatisfaction is always going to catch up with us. One of my favorite quotes from Bill Johnson says:

The grass is always greener where you water it.

I know there are a lot of problems in the church. But I want to be part of the solution. I don’t want to be stuck in the break room of life, complaining about how much it sucks. I want to find creative ways to speak life into what I love.

If I sow a lifestyle of cynicism, disappointment and doubt, I can’t expect to reap hope, healing and resolve.

I realize that my commitment to God and His church is so much more important than any job I’ve ever had. So when I find a problem, I’m committed to seeking the truth and finding how to make it better. Because complaining about where I am or running away to somewhere else will never change anything. And I don’t plan on staying anywhere that isn’t changing and progressing.

How do you address the problems in the church?
Do you think it’s important to criticize, find solutions or both? 


  1. It is important that you are ready so that you can move on the world you want to be. I think we don’t have the right to address the problem on the Church. The problem is how you are going to accept the problem.
    Trisha Mckee recently posted..Sex is better with Thicker and Stronger Penis

  2. I tend to disconnect when I experience problems in the church. I still attend and “worship” and connect with friends, but I drop out of involvement in committees and the like. I figure if I don’t know how the sausage is made then I will still want to eat it.

    Yes, church is like yummy pork.
    Jamie recently posted..The Post About Random Rabbits

  3. Insightful post Tony. Really enjoyed reading it.

    I think there is also a balance between critisizing something and standing up for something. Let me explain. Just the other day, in a team-meeting, I stood up for something… I feel there is a process in place (or lack thereof of a process) that needs to be addressed. I stood up for our team. But… some might take that as me criticizing the ‘way things are’. Did I offer up a solution? Maybe not… maybe I was wrong simply the way it came out. 🙂
    dustin recently posted..Empire of Dirt

    • I’m all for identifying problems! But only if you’re willing to be part of the solution. Even if you don’t have a solution, it’s better to bring up the problem to address. But the real test if you really care is how much you are really committed.

      It’s easy to complain from the sidelines and never plan to be a part of finding the solution.

  4. Very insightful, Tony.

    I work in an office environment as well and often deal with the frustrations of working with flawed tools/processes. Thank you for the challenge to change my mind.

    Not to be too cliche, but there is power in positive thinking. Although denial is taking it too far.
    ThatGuyKC recently posted..Are you a 3:00 AM Creative?

  5. I certainly know what my strategy has been when I am confronted with problems in the church – I run away from it or from the responsibiity of doing anything about it. I was nominated 4 years in a row to be a deacon, and the last two years, I simply did not allow my name to run for a vote. I just didn’t, or don’t want to deal with the issues. But I missed the point that I was probably being put in a position where I could help with the problems in the church and not run away from them. Hopefully the Lord will give me opportunity to help address problems in our chruch. God Bless.
    Juan Cruz Jr recently posted..A New Creation

    • Wow, that’s a great example Juan. I like how you framed it about being put in a position to help with the problem. Sure, you’re exposed to more but you’re also closer to being a part of the solution.

  6. One step beyond this, in life in general or in the home or workplace is that we need to examine the relationships that promote this sort of commiseration. Often, our closest relationships can be producing the most toxicity. When we pause and examine these relationships, it cause us to have to act — just as you knew to go when the opportunity presented itself. It gets difficult and tricky, and sometimes painful, when we have to not quit a relationship, but walk away from the toxic produce that comes from investing in said relationship. (and, I’ve often found that disengaging on that level ticks them off and they quit me – not fun, but in the long run immeasurably better). Great thoughts, Tony, as usual 🙂
    Alyssa Santos recently posted..If You Can Faith {testing possibility}

    • Oh Alyssa, I can completely relate. I’m not one to “give up” on friendships very easily but I’ve found myself distancing myself from overly negative people. Only because it’s so easy to be sucked into that way of thinking. Like you said, it’s toxic.

  7. Awesome stuff, Tony. To your question, I would say that if you’re criticizing the church, make sure it’s face-to-face / person-to-person, and that you’ve earned a place to give a piece of constructive criticism (and you’re not just a Sunday consumer who takes malicious notes). And then, of course, afterwards, you have to be willing to be part of the solution.
    Stephen recently posted..Guest Post: Oh No You Didn’t

  8. Oh, triple Z snap, this is a really good one, Tony. I’ve always been a cynic, a critic, the one who always asks, ‘How can we make this better?’ It’s hard to balance that with a need to be loving and accepting, especially in areas of the church. God has really been working on my heart in this area and showing me that we are all at different points in our faith journey. He’s been teaching me about unity and seeing the complete person, not just a snapshot. What’s amazing is that since this process began, I’ve been blown away by what I have learned from others who I thought needed bettering, critiquing or improvement. Yes, there is a time and a place for that. But, there is also room for grace and accepting that God works intimately and personally with each individual in His time not mine. And, I need work, too.

    • The cool thing is that as our hearts are more lost in Jesus, we take on His heart for the body. Most criticism comes outside of relationship. It’s so much easier to criticize an idea. Many times we make people into ideas and we begin to attack them. That’s self-destructive.

      When we start focusing on relationships and our love for each other, we’ll start to see our disagreements in a different light.

      What I’m learning is that unity isn’t just about homogenization. There is diversity within our unity. It’s our love that keeps us working together towards the same goal.

  9. I like my wife’s quote better: the grass may be greener on the other side, but it still has to get cut.

  10. Very true Tony, there are so many problems within the church, yet somewhere we have to remember that Jesus is attempting to solve those problems, and it all begins with us!

  11. No disrespect to John Acuff, but I think we live in the generation of quitters. Any little problem, anything we don’t like, we walk away, and bash people, organizations, churches, etc…

    You are either part of the problem or part of the solution. Nobody is needed in the stands! So put up or shut up!
    Moe recently posted..Discipleship: Trusting The Next Generation

  12. I’ve had the mindset that it’s ok to criticize as long as you provide a solution or are willing to be part of the solution to make things better. Critics are a dime a dozen and do nothing more than stir up problems if they stay critics. But a good critic is one who not only sees the problem, but helps solve it.
    Jason Vana recently posted..The Practical Side of Dreaming

    • Your last line nails it. I don’t think it’s so much that you can’t identify a problem until you have a solution. It’s just a matter of sticking with it until one surfaces and taking the lead in living out what the changes might look like.

  13. Hey Tony, I like this and to be honest, I feel like it hits home. It’s easy to criticize all the things wrong with the church. And to some degree, deconstruction is good because it wakes us up to what we’re doing that’s WORKING and what is NOT working.

    But that’s a FINE LINE and we must be careful not to complain just because it’s easier than actually being part of the solution. I think Gandhi’s classic quote, “Be the change you wish to see in the world,” applies to ministry as well. Sometimes that’s frustrating, especially when the resources aren’t exactly rushing to meet you. But patience is God-given as well.

    Great thoughts, my friend.
    Bryan Thompson recently posted..8 Keys that will Make Your Relationship Indestructible

    • The more involved and invested we become, the more apt we are to finding solutions. When you don’t have anything to lose, there’s nothing preventing you from remaining stagnant.

      Love that Ghandi quote! It’s almost trite now because it’s used so much but the heart of what he is saying is TRUTH.

  14. Great insights here Tony. It is always easier to complain about problems than to seek a solution. I think that we take the easy way out too many times.
    Sele Mitchell recently posted..With All Your Heart …

  15. “The grass is always greener where you water it.” Love that quote. So much truth to that tiny statement.
    Sundi Jo recently posted..Step Away from that Diet: Ten Steps To Losing Weight and Gaining the Confidence You’ve Been Searching For

  16. I love Ed’s comment … it’s all about movement and growth. Spiritual growth could be defined as, Hearing and Responding: “What is God saying to you and what are you going to do about it?” God’s grace finds us where we are, but it never leaves us where it found us. If we aren’t moving and growing and responding, then we’re simpling complaining. It’s okay to share your thoughts and feelings but it’s not okay to stay put.
    Ryan Tate recently posted..Our Family Rules

    • It seems like the loudest critics are those that are least involved. I know that’s been my experience even with politics in this country. The ones that have the most complaints are the ones that never vote.

      When the loudest complainers are do so from the sidelines with no investment of their own, it’s counter-productive. Once you are completely invested, you want to see the best come about because you’re all in. It’s a much different perspective.

  17. Tony, I’ve read this entry 2 times now…not because it’s hard to understand (because it’s not), but because I can identify with it so well. When I was in Bible College I worked for the school and every afternoon at 3 all the employees met for break. The fifteen minutes we all spent was nothing but a gripe fest about anything and everything you could think of…Politics, Religion, Doctrine, Sex, people that ticked us off, professors that seemed out of touch. I remember one day talking to a buddy of mine and he told me how much he hated our break times…that he felt like the environment was more toxic than what he experienced at his previous secular job.

    I experienced much of the same in my three years in ministry…it was almost too easy to target something or someone and complain. When I look back on it I can’t help but wonder why we couldn’t see the negative nature of it all…because it certainly bled into my ministry.

    I think you have a subject matter here that deserves more conversation.

    • It’s one of those things that can get out of control pretty quickly. We all have the capacity to become cynical faster than we think. Just being around one cynical person can throw us off.

      I try to shut down conversations that are just gripfests. I don’t like to make fun of people (anymore) and especially talk about them behind their back.

      I try to go directly to people if I have a problem with them. It’s way too easy to think that discussing a situation with someone on the fringe might be more productive. It never is unless that person is redirecting you right back to the source of your issue.

      It’s not easy but that’s what I’m going for in my life.

  18. I’m glad that you bring up the subject Tony because really there are many things that are wrong with the church today. But as you know of course, the church is made up of sinners so there are always going to be things that are wrong. That’s what I tell people when they give me objections as to why they don’t come to church.

    I found that it’s important to bring things up that aren’t right. But we have to do it in a way that is positive and we also have to propose solutions to them. If we don’t say anything about them, then they will never be fixed and we want to be as close to perfect as possible just like our Heavenly Father.

  19. One of the most striking things about Jesus is that he told people to come as they were, but after he healed or forgave them, he told them to go and sin no more. That has impacted me quite dramatically in relation to the church. As we confront the darker sides of things, I often worry if I’m providing healing and a redemptive path forward or just poking at a wound.

    Good thoughts and great illustration.
    ed cyzewski recently posted..Why We Don’t Belong at Church Inc®

    • I think you’re not just doing a great job bringing up problems, but looking for ways to be redemptive. Without hearing the redemptive stories, it’s way too easy to get cynical.

      We always find whatever we’re looking for. If we’re looking for those disappointed and disillusioned, we’ll find it. If someone doesn’t step up for hope, it’s becomes a stagnant pity party. That’s not something I ever want to get sucked into.

  20. I love when I see that the very thing that’s been stirring in my heart is stirring in others too. This really is a problem, because as we criticize the church more we revere it less. I believe the way to address the problems that exists is prayerfully, lovingly, and always in a way that edifies. Too often we get upset and start spreading seeds of dissension. Iron sharpens iron, and we have a responsibility to one another to speak truth, but always always always in love.
    Nikki Weatherford recently posted..Til Death, A Challenge

    • Somebody told me the other day that when iron sharpens iron, there are sparks! That’s actually healthy. 🙂

      I don’t have a problem with confronting problems but I definitely believe there are better ways than finding people to commiserate with just to complain.

  21. Constructive Critizism…always works but very difficult to come achieve. Like Jim said…approach it in LOVE…

    I had constructive critizism when i was young starting off teaching sunday school…and it worked…then again…i like to think i have a receptive and humble heart…which I assume someone who teaches teenagers in sunday school should have no?

    i think we shouldn’t be anxious for anything but do everything in prayer and thanksgiving and submitting our requests to God for he is able…
    Arny recently posted..For Laura: She Has Love

    • It’s a pretty fine line between criticism and constructive criticism but I believe it has everything to do with the motivation.

      It’s a two-way street if it’s going to be effective. The person giving feedback has to have the right heart and the person receiving has to be receptive.

      I don’t think we need to sweet problems under the rug. I just believe there are better ways to deal with problems in the church rather than blasting people/churches on our blogs.

      • “I just believe there are better ways to deal with problems in the church rather than blasting people/churches on our blogs.”

        I’m so glad you mentioned blasting on our blogs…it is very distasteful and sad when i see this happening in the blogosphere…not very cool…especially since someone else might come across it in later years and be turned off by the church…or who they think church goers think…


        great topic Tony.
        Arny recently posted..The Analogous Truth Community: Thank You.

  22. I am a head on guy – I think the best approach to addressing problems is the church is head on. The best way is not going around something but through it. When a problem surfaces – I pray then move forward to fix and/or talk about the issue with any and all involved.

    The second question you ask I see it is important to tell the truth in Love. Complaining is wrong and dangerous – God kills complainers in Numbers 21. I tend to be solution oriented so I generally come at things with solutions in mind. Being able to express solutions helps others to jump in and you get more a brain storming rather than complaining atmosphere.

    Good thoughts as always.
    Jim F recently posted..My Ministry Advice

    • I totally agree, Jim. But I feel that you can’t address a problem head on until you commit yourself. If I’m a leader, I put less value on an outsiders opinion than someone in the community. And just because you show up on occasion doesn’t mean you’re committed. I’m sure you can relate to that!

      In the context of family, I believe anything is up for discussion. Ultimately you have to trust the leadership to take counsel but ultimately be led by God.

      Either way, you can’t expect for anything to be taken with the right spirit if you aren’t committed to where you are. Complaining without confronting head on is only a recipe for disaster.

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