I have struggled mightily with being content (in a state of peaceful happiness). The word content, to me, carries a negative connotation. It makes me feel like I am not achieving or moving forward. A lot of times I get caught up in “the grass is greener” mentality. Not so much that I am envious of someone or something but that I am not where I need to be. The next thing will always be better than what I have now. It has to be. How often do you tell yourself that?
Speaking in generalities, I think we all think that it is healthy to always be looking for that next thing. Never satisfied. Last week, I wrote about being present and I believe contentedness is a direct result of being present. The times that I have allowed myself to be present and given that space to God, He has provided me with contentedness. Here’s my example.
I started in my current role as the Executive Director of a nonprofit organization over two years ago. It’s a big title for someone my age. Don’t read this as if I am boasting, it is a relatively small organization. I will say, being twenty-three years old and going from no responsibilities in one job to having a governing board that expected I understand all operations was a big jump. Initially, I was thrilled to be in the position. I thought it was cool and definitely going to pad the resume. After a few months, I came to understand that this nonprofit was at a critical point in its organizational life. A series of decisions were either going to make or break the future of our organization. Amongst those decisions, I fell into a place of unrest. I became disgruntled, impatient, exhausted, and overall disappointed. Here I thought I could make a difference immediately. I was not, in the slightest, in a place of content. I began to look for the next best thing. God kept closing doors. I would pray for answers and, crickets. I was not getting the results I wanted. I was not able to move on like I wanted. There a came point, about six months ago, where I felt the tables starting to turn and God telling me to hang in there.** I stopped looking for greener pastures. I stopped running from the idea that my work life and my personal life could not crossover. I leaned in. I had been praying for the ability to find contentedness in my work for a while and I finally realized that I needed to own that prayer. I had to be intentional about being content. It was not just going to happen for me. I began to settle in and be thankful for all of the things that were going right in my work instead of focusing on the few things that were going wrong.
This shift in mindset has worked. The things that I thought should have happened months earlier were beginning to fall into place. In addition, my feelings of discontent started to fade. I can honestly say that I enjoy where I am and the work I do.
1 Timothy 6: 6-7 “ But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.”
Contentment did not become a reality for me until I gained some perspective. The more I learn about my role on this earth and the truth about how short my life is, the easier it is to feel “okay” with the current situation. I am learning to enjoy things as opposed to trying to change them. My life is not my own. My possessions are not mine, the things I earn are not mine, my goals are set according to God’s will not my own. It all sounds so righteous and unattainable but it does not change the reality of it. This is the truth about following Christ. And as opposed to seeing this as slavery I view it as free. God is in control! We get to lean on Him and trust His plan. I don’t have to have my own anything. I just live with a heart that is content and continues to trust that God will show me what’s next when He is ready.
Hebrews 13: 5 “Keep your lives free…be content with what you have, because God has said,
‘Never will I leave you;
never will I forsake you.'”
Living with contentment is not bad. It has allowed me to truly learn from my circumstances. I now feel like I am getting the most out of my days. Don’t waste your time or regret the present. Lean in. Find peace in the situation. Say this quick prayer if you want.
– God help me to trust you. Help me to understand what it means to be content with my life and the things you are doing. –
**No, there was not a clear voice from God telling me anything. I simply became more comfortable and my prayers started to change tone. Hearing from God is weird so I wanted to clear that up. I think we all experience Him differently. I’m getting better about understanding where He speaks in my life.
Resonant Leadership – Boyatzis & McKee
That Sounds Fun Podcast – Episodes 100/101
Book of Mark chapters 1 & 2