Our first step in leading a complainer through listening is to comfort him, connecting with his heart. Comfort literally means “to call along side.” It comes from the Latin, com meaning “together” and fortis which is translated “strong.” Comfort strengthens together.
Comforting a complainer means that we come alongside him and communicate the words, “I understand.” This short sentence builds an emotional bridge between the complainer’s heart and ours. He is comforted by the connection of understanding which opens the door to encouragement. Solomon counseled: “Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones” (Proverbs 16:24) He went on to say: “A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver” (Proverbs 25:11). The right word at the right time is comforting and priceless.
The complaining Pharisees asked why Jesus and His disciples dined with tax collectors and “sinners” (Luke 5:30). Jesus’ response to the Pharisees: “It’s not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick” (Luke 5:31) communicated that He had understood their perspective. Paul said that our comfort comes from God and is designed to overflow into others (2 Corinthians 1:3-5).
The next time you encounter a complainer, connect with his heart — his desire for security and his fear of being misunderstood. Comfort him with the phrase, “I understand.” Follow these words with describing an experience in your own life that is similar to the complainer’s scenario.
Jesus called the Holy Spirit, by the name, Comforter. When you comfort the complainer, it won’t be you; rather, it will be the Spirit of Christ in you, who comes along side the difficult person and strengthens together.