I’ve received complaints from women about all but two of Compassion’s female bloggers. (I’ve never once received a complaint from a man or about one of our male bloggers. Hmmm.)
Some complaints are over words: “Penis” “sex” “crap” and “sucks” are just a few of the words that some women say are never appropriate regardless of context.
Some complaints are based on assumptions: A blogger travels a lot, for instance, so she’s not a good parent. Her child was sick with a disease and now isn’t as sick so she lied about how sick her kid really was in the first place. A blog grew when a child’s passing was chronicled there so the mom must be using her child’s death to make money.
Some complaints are theological: Quoting Mother Teresa or any Catholic or being a Calvinist or forgiving an abuser garners a lot of criticism.
Some complaints are intuitive or border on clairvoyant: And I quote, “There’s no way her life is as good as she pretends it is. You’ll see and be sorry when the truth comes out.” Or “Everything she does is for money.”
Some complaints are metaphorical: ” Lie down with dogs and you’ll get up with fleas.”
Speaking of dogs…As we say in the South, even a blind dog finds a squirrel from time to time. So, while some complaints are frivolous, others are mean, most are baseless and petty, I take almost all of them seriously and search them for the squirrels, I mean pieces, of truth.
I spend almost half my time as the leader of Compassion Bloggers taking complaints from women about women very seriously.
But there are two complaints I ignore completely and I think we all should:
- PUBLIC COMPLAINTS. I’m purposefully easy to reach. My e-mail address and phone number are published at CompassionBloggers.com (and at ShaunGroves.com) and there’s a form there as well through which people can message me. Anyone who follows me on Twitter is automatically followed back. I do this so EVERYONE following me can direct message me – which is private. I know these modes of communication work because people successfully reach me through them daily.
The apostle Paul says that when we have a complaint against someone we’re to go to that person privately with our concerns. We’re not to attract attention to ourselves or our enemies by complaining publicly.
When someone chooses to complain publicly when private avenues are available, their primary motivation is not constructive but destructive. I’m not rewarding such behavior with a response. And I’ve proven that I’m not always capable of respectfully responding to such disrespectful communication so I’m not attempting it. (Only once have a responded to a public complaint. I was sarcastic, regretted it immediately and apologized frequently.)
- DISRESPECTFUL AND INSULTING. I’ve been called a douche, prick, a$$ and snarky a$$ (and worse) in the last month publicly via Twitter, on hate sites (web sites that exist to critique a blogger’s character publicly), and via e-mail. Sadly, the woman who called me a prick – or was it snarky a$$? – had a valid concern that really needed my immediate attention.
But the way she chose to communicate with me undermined the credibility of her complaint, which was heavy on insult and light on detail. It was ignored.
By demeaning me she turned my attention away from her concern and toward her lack of respect. Time was wasted, both of us were frustrated, and a valid concern was almost overlooked completely. Thankfully, a more respectful individual later voiced the same concern in the appropriate way and I took immediate action.
Again, Paul tells us how to deal with one another when we’re upset. We’re to be gentle, kind, humble and above reproach.
I hope none of us is bothered by suggestions, concerns and complaints. They’re opportunities to connect and improve. But they have to be served up privately and respectfully in order to be effective and God-honoring.