Discovering Real Contentment
We live surrounded by abundance – in goods, services, luxury, ease, and opportunities. Perhaps we don’t own everything we want, but it’s definitely there to view and covet. Regardless of what is available, are we content with what we have?
Contentment can be defined as peaceful satisfaction.
Where does this peaceful satisfaction come from, when we live in a world that’s always striving for more?
Contentment begins in a pure heart that exalts God only.
“Create in me a pure heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.”
Often, we are our own problem.
All the purulent discontent that is welling up and spilling out all over our spouse, our families, our co-workers and communities begins in fear and pride, stinking up our most private thoughts.
Yes. Stinkin’ Thinkin’.
During one of our recent driving adventures, we listened to a 2004 audio collection, recorded from a Lead Like Jesus conference, which included Bishop George McKinney using the term, “stinkin’ thinkin.’”
This kind of thinking is the opposite of what’s found in a pure heart… and it shows up in behaviors like boasting, withholding information, intimidating others, or hiding behind a title or position.
Stinkin’ thinkin’ leads to comparison.
There is no contentment in comparison!
Going further, you could consider comparison as part of the slippery slope to judgement. (Consider Jesus’ parable of the Pharisee and the publican in Luke 18:9-14.)
Altaring our Pride and Fear
No, “altaring” isn’t a spelling mistake – it’s deliberate. What happens when we sacrifice our fears and human pride like a symbolic old-testament burnt offering on a stone altar? What happens to our hearts when all puffed up, human pride and shaky fears are gone from our hearts?
With pride and fear gone, there is room for humility and God-grounded confidence.
Humility and God-ground confidence are beautiful gifts for every person you influence. And by practicing these attributes, you will find contentment.
As leadership is influence, consider all those lives you touch every day. Your contentment – wanting what you have – can positively influence everyone around you.
Contentment in Marriage
In marriage, every year is not a great year. (For those who are married, I’m sure this doesn’t come as a surprise.)
Yet you can find contentment and positively influence your spouse, even in the not-so-good years.
- Where health challenges cripple your year, can you and your spouse find contentment by resting within God’s grace – embracing Him as your helper?
- Where financial distress hampers your progress, can you and your spouse rejoice and give thanks where and how God provides – being humble and thankful in all circumstances?
- Where relationship strife strikes like a lightning bolt, can you and your spouse seek forgiveness and mercy and recognize the good in each other?
When you are content in your life together as husband and wife – regardless of an outwardly good or not-so-good year – your children, your families, and those in your community will see you exalting God.
That’s a beautiful leadership gift for everyone. It draws you close to God, each other, and others with your community.
Contentment in Work
What is work? It can be work in a career, in a non-profit, in church-world, or at home. Paid or un-paid, work is what we do when we’re making a difference. And not all work is fun. Nor is it always rewarding in the ways we hope work will be.
Yet, you can find contentment and influence those around you, even when your work situation isn’t ideal.
- When your kids are in awkward stages, and there are more tears than laughter in a day – can you trust God to cover everything that you, in your humanness, miss or mess-up?
- When your job appears to be on a downward trajectory – can you still praise those around you, while relying on God as your helper? (Hebrews 13:6)
- When your volunteer role feels like it has no outward impact – can you remain faithful in action, focused on a Kingdom perspective, encouraging and building up others?
There are always more watching than you think, especially in your times of trial. When you are content in your work, regardless of circumstance, those you influence will identify a humbleness that grows from exalting God first, last and everywhere in-between. Because of your humility and a God-grounded confidence, each person you influence will identify God as your source of security and wisdom.
Jesus as Our Example
All good comes from God – and Jesus, as His Son, knew all the good and the abundance that was possible. Yet, His life on this earth – if viewed purely from a human perspective – was less-than-good.
Just consider: Jesus’ job was definitely a struggle.
Most of the people He came to save rejected Him. He owned nothing. Relationships were disappointing. His close friends failed when He needed them to support Him in prayer. One betrayed Him, and another denied Him. Those set in leadership positions hated him. The scribes and Pharisees actively sought to kill him – and ultimately succeeded. But He didn’t judge. Instead He asked God to forgive them.
Jesus was content and responded only with love.
He continued to live His life in humility and God-grounded confidence. He continued to exalt God only.
How can Jesus’ life, as your example, help you discover true contentment?
Written by: Robert and Lori Ferguson
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