Are You a Complainer or an Encourager?


While we shouldnโ€™t categorize people too rigidly, at times I do.

Mark Batterson does it, too, in In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day.

He uses these two categories for our relationships with God: Complainers and Worshipers.

But for horizontal relationships, I often useย Complainers and Encouragers.

I notice the difference the most when I need encouragement myself. In those times, I’m often surprised by who excels at giving encouragement. And who doesn’t.

So now whenever I’m most aware of needing encouragement, I know who I need to hang around for positive, spiritual encouragement. And who to avoid. It makes a difference.

But in which category do I place myself? Both. Ugh. I donโ€™t want to be a complainer, but I know sometimes I am. Itโ€™s ugly. A bitter edge is never attractive.

Perhaps the best way to succeed in becoming an encourager to others is to also become more of a worshiper of God. Success in one flows down to success in the other.

Worshiping and encouraging are both beautiful ways to live.

* * *

Are you more of a complainer or an encourager? Who encourages you most in your life? Please share in the comments.

revised from the archives

45 thoughts on “Are You a Complainer or an Encourager?

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      With all that you’ve endured, I think you complain very little, Andrew! Online anyway. We’d have to ask Barbara about the in-person part. ๐Ÿ™‚ I need to do better about keeping those complaining parts locked in my head too.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Both here as well, Linda. ๐Ÿ™ I’d rather it not be that way, but at least we’re aware of it, which is the first step in allowing the Lord to transform us, yes? Blessings to you.

  1. bethany mcilrath

    I can be an encourager to a fault, Lisa. For example, offering encouragement when what is needed is “weeping with those who weep.” Some of that is just out of fear of being a complainer. I feel so yucky when I complain. Thanks for highlighting the bitter edge and getting me to think on this today!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Oh, that’s a different angle that I didn’t think about, Bethany! Thanks for bringing that up because, yes, sometimes we just need someone to sympathize with us instead of offering us a way out. But at least you’re still not complaining so that’s good. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Dolly


    I think you hit on a key: worshipping God enables us to be encouragers. I definitely see the difference, and my family does, too, when I first worship God in the morning ๐Ÿ™‚ Blessings to you ๐Ÿ™‚ My friend Deb is one of my biggest encouragers ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I’m glad you have a good friend who encourages you, Dolly. We all need those go-to people who can give us the courage we need when we’re lacking it. I’m guessing that you are an encouragement to Deb as well!

  3. June

    “Perhaps the best way to succeed in becoming an encourager to others is to also become more of a worshiper of God.” I think this is so true, Lisa! and I have a hard time believing you’re a complainer ๐Ÿ˜‰ I definitely put you in the encourager category! Have a blessed rest of the week, friend.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Well, you should have heard me on Sunday, June. ha. My husband would have lumped me in the complainer category very quickly. I do try to keep it to a minimum but occasionally it comes out of the mouth when it should have just stayed in the head. Of course I’d rather it never pop into my head either! But God still have some mountains to move in there first.

  4. Jean Wise

    yep I’m guilty – both roles. I have been intentional as I grow older and I hope a little wiser, to be more optimistic and encouraging but especially when I am tired or stressed, the old complainer takes over. Probably a life long struggle. What is the old story? We have two wolves fighting inside of us. Which one wins? The one we feed. Let’s keep feeding the encourager! Good post, Lisa.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I relate to this, Jean: “but especially when I am tired or stressed, the old complainer takes over.” I can’t imagine you being anything but encouraging though. But we are all still human. Yes, let’s keep feeding the right wolf! Thanks, friend.

  5. bluecottonmemory

    I battle complaining – bringing up the hurts that don’t seem to resolve – it’s like being an addict. One moment I’m trust God – maybe even for days – thanking him, living encouraged – and, then, suddenly, I dissolve until a complaining heap! However, I am a glass half-full kind of girl – I think that makes a difference in how quickly I rise from that heap and repent, pushing forward in faith.

  6. Dianna

    Great point in that when we are worshipers of God that it filters down to our being encouragers rather than complainers in our relationships here on this planet! I find it to be so true in my life…especially when I’m tired and where I turn first. If I turn to God by spending time in His Word and having fellowship with Him I quit being a complainer, but if I turn to people first I usually take a complaining attitude into the conversation.

  7. Lesley

    Like most people I have moments of both. I love your insight that when we focus on worshipping God it helps us to be more encouraging to others. I think that’s very true.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Yes, we do all have moments of being both encouragers and complainers. I guess the critical factor is which defines us the most? And which are we growing toward? So thankful for God’s grace to help us as we want to grow.

  8. KellyRBaker

    This reminds me of being pessimistic versus optimistic. When I’ve not had enough sleep I find myself starting to become negative, complaining, etc. It’s a “trigger” of sorts. I especially loved when you said this: “Perhaps the best way to succeed in becoming an encourager to others is to also become more of a worshiper of God. Success in one flows down to success in the other.” Thanks for your words today, Lisa!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I’m that way, too, Kelly. When I feel bad physically (whether from insomnia or hunger or whatever!), my attitude can easily follow. But thankfully we don’t have to live by our flesh! I pray for more growth in this area to worship first and complain last. ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Trudy

    Complaining is something I worry about, Lisa. I put on a smile and automatically tell people I’m fine when I’m not. I quickly ask others how they are, and often they will tell me about an ache or pain, and yet I don’t think they’re complaining. And yet, when I say how I really am, I feel like I am. I probably sound all mixed up. ๐Ÿ™‚ I complain plenty in my heart to God, and I am so grateful how patient and unconditional His love is. ๐Ÿ™‚ I hope I am more often an encourager though. I love to encourage others, but I know I should practice that more on myself, too. ๐Ÿ™‚

    I see you as an encourager here, Lisa. Even sharing honestly with others of your struggle of complaining is encouraging to those of us who struggle, too. And I love how you say we need to first be a worshiper of God. It all starts with Him, right? When our hearts are filled with His love, it will naturally flow out to others. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank you for giving me pause to reflect on this today. Love and hugs!

  10. floyd

    This is a great reminder to count our blessings. I think complaining is a habit like all others. The more we do it the more it becomes a part of our lives.

    I’m not above it, but I sure am trying to there with help from Above.

    There’s a reason Eeyore’s the least favorite cartoon characterโ€ฆ

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I have noticed that, Floyd…I can go through seasons where I complain more than usual; it becomes a habit. But definitely one we can seek God’s help to break. Eeyore does get annoying after awhile. ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. Barbara H.

    I’ve had that experience, too, when I share something and realize that person is not one who is good to share with. And I tend to be both encourager and complainer as well, as I think most of us are. Love the thought that our worship of God will filter down into our encouragement of others.

  12. Yvonne Chase

    I do my best to be more of an encourager yet, like you, I fall into the trap of complaining. As soon as I realize it, I snap out of it. Complaining is a waste of time. Nobody wants to hear it and it only drags you down further.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      You’re so right, Yvonne—nobody wants to hear our complaining. If we could just remember that, it would help. ha. It’s so much easier to spot in others than it is ourselves.

  13. Tiffany Parry

    Encouragement is one of my spiritual gifts, so it’s something I really like to give. I don’t receive it very well, oddly enough, or at least the compliment side of encouragement. And complaining, well I try not too, but I most certainly have my safe people who I can vent to and know that they’ll still see the strength of my faith regardless.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      How wonderful that encouragement is one of your gifts, Tiffany. I’m sure you have many friends because of that! ๐Ÿ™‚ “Safe people” – yes, those are good to have, too. My husband is one of favorite safe people because I know my complaining will go no further than his ears.

  14. TC AVEY

    I’m guilty of complaining but that’s not how I want to be and I’ve learned that if I neglect time with God that is how I act. It’s vital for me to be plugged into Him so that I can encourage others.

  15. Sarah Donegan

    “Perhaps the best way to succeed in becoming an encourager to others is to also become more of a worshiper of God.” I never thought of it that way!
    I am more of an encourager, except with people I feel safe around. My Dad is hands down the most encouraging to me! ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. Laura Thomas

    Arghโ€”both! I like to think I’m an encourager, and I know I do try to encourage wherever I can, but I’m pretty sure the complaining comes fairly naturally :/ When I receive encouragement from someone, it fills my cup to overflowing, and I’m pretty sure God is in thatโ€”reminding me just how edifying it is to be on the receiving end so that I make the effort to be on the giving end, too! Thanks for the thought-provoking post, Lisa! Stopping by from #TellHisStory ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I wonder if the complaining comes pretty naturally to most of us. ๐Ÿ™‚ We don’t have to figure out how to do it. ha. Yes, when we see how good encouragement is to our own souls, we’re more apt to want to give it to others! Thanks for giving me encouragement today, Laura.

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