Are you feeling content these days?
Saying you are content isn’t easy on a normal day. All it takes for me to head toward discontentment is one piece of gravel in my shoe, slow Wi-Fi, getting stuck in the slow line at the supermarket or hearing the sound of a mosquito buzzing after I turn out the light.
Saying you are content isn’t easy in the midst of COVID. Everyone is dealing with a long list of inconveniences, while too many are dealing with serious hardships and significant losses.
Saying you are content isn’t easy for Christian leaders on any day, and especially in a pandemic. By nature, we don’t like the status quo or feeling stuck. We can see how things can be better, and we long for forward motion toward positive change.
Yet our faith in Christ and calling as Christian leaders should make a difference around contentment. It’s humbling to read Paul’s letter to the Philippians. He’s in jail and separated from his team, but he’s still upbeat. His itinerant ministry is at a dead end, but he’s rejoicing at God’s work all around him.
Somehow, Paul is content. He writes, “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want” (Philippians 4:12).“ I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” Philippians 4:12 Click To Tweet
In the midst of very difficult circumstances, Paul is living and leading differently. So how do we follow in Paul’s footsteps?
First, our faith in Christ should make a profound difference in our level of contentment. Whatever we face, God is bigger. Whatever we face, we are not alone. God is with us, and in us. Whatever we face, God can use it to shape us more like Christ and bring glory to himself. Whatever we face, Paul reminds us that we have a bigger prize. He writes, “I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage that I may gain Christ…” (Philippians 3:8).Whatever we face, God is bigger. Whatever we face, we are not alone. God is with us, and in us. Click To Tweet
Whatever we face, we also know it is only temporary. Though it is hard for us to fathom, the promise of eternity in heaven puts our present challenges in a different light. Heaven brings an eternal perspective that highlights the unimaginable wonder, beauty and goodness of heaven to come.Whatever we face, we also know it is only temporary. Though it is hard for us to fathom, the promise of eternity in heaven puts our present challenges in a different light. Click To Tweet
Second, our calling as Jesus-centered leaders should make a difference in our level of contentment. Not only are leaders held to a higher account, for better or worse, we set the culture and tone around us. Our example stirs others toward positivity or negativity, gratefulness or grumbling, courage or fear and unity or division. Our perspective and platform points people toward hope or despair.
The long, challenging road of lesser frustrations like gravel in my shoe or big-ticket items like COVID can both feel like a metal grinder is at work on my character. This journey is not easy. However, the road less travelled points us toward minds set on things above, not on earthly things. It is also pointing us toward the true source of our strength and the ultimate difference maker. As Paul shares that the secret of his contentment isn’t his own willpower but Christ through whom Paul writes, “I can do all things through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13).
Cheering you on to live and lead differently in these challenging times,
Dr. Steve A. Brown
President, Arrow Leadership