Friday, September 16, 2011


Rev. Will Bowen, of Kansas City, Missouri, had an inspired moment as he was taking a shower one evening. His congregation, like many others, spent inordinate amounts of time on complaining, criticizing, gossiping, and sarcasm -- usually related to fairly trivial matters within the church. The light bulb that appeared over his head in the shower led him to encourage his folks to pledge to stop doing those things.

OK, many pastors have had that idea.

But Bowen took it further. He issued rubber purple wristbands (no latex), and asked the people to go for 21 consecutive days without complaining. The wristbands not only were a reminder of the pledge to be a non-complainer, but also, if a person took the pledge, started counting down the 21 days, and caught him/herself making a complaint, the person was supposed to move the wristband to the other arm and start over with the countdown.

Rev. Bowen required 3 1/2 months to manage a 21-day streak of no complaining. Others in the congregation took as long as 7 months.

Amazingly, the idea spread, and is spreading. If you look at the official website you will learn that over 8 million purple wristbands have been distributed throughout 106 countries. That's a lot of complaining that has ceased! More is happening all the time.

Reasons for a complaining attitude are described on the group's website, and include the desire for attention; the avoidance of action and effort; setting up a "pre-excuse" for not doing anything helpful; boasting; and, controlling others.

Regular complaining has a negative impact on the health and psyche of the complainer and disrupts relationships. Indeed, the stated purpose of A Complaint Free World is "to create a happier and more positive life."

It's difficult to think of anything bad to say about that.

Would I be complaining if I suggested that surely, someone will come up with a negative response?

1 comment:

  1. What can I say? Other than, "Sign me up for one of those wristbands!" What a helpful object lesson! Thanks for sharing, Greg.

    I wonder how many pastors would need to move their wristbands after meeting in our "pastors' meetings" or lectionary groups or ....

    Lately, I'm trying to simply smile, forgive, appreciate, and live in the Lord. And, I find myself ... happier.

    Praise God!

    Peace, Doug