When I was thinking about a title for this post, I figured "Contentment" would be a good summary. Then I realized that I just wrote a blog post with that title back in March.
I guess I've been thinking a lot about contentment this year.
Just this past Sunday I concluded my sermon from Paul's letter to the Philippians where he offers,
I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 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.
Paul unveils this secret in the next verse:
I can do everything through [God] who gives me strength.
They say that you can always tell what a minister is struggling with by what he preaches, so you might assume that I'm haven't a hard time with contentment right now. But that's not the case.
Actually, I'm more content than I've ever been. But even when you're content, you must constantly remind yourself of it. Otherwise, you may begin to replace the ultimate source of contentment [read: God] with other things. And almost always, the replacement is detrimental to our ultimate contentment.
Yesterday I read about another high-profile minister who had an affair. This guy had a national audience who was held captive by his every word; he was seen as the measure of success. And yet this wasn't enough to make him content— he had to have more. Unfortunately, the result of his drive cost him his job, perhaps will cause Christians to lose faith in the church, and will be a scar on his family life the rest of his life.
I'm not saying this to kick a guy when he's down, as he's obviously not the only person this has happened to. Examine any recent major scandal [Berlusconi, Madoff, steroids] and you discover that it's usually the result of someone trying to manufacture contentment. It would be foolish for us not to heed these examples as a warning in our own lives.
Ask yourself what you're chasing in this world and why. It might seem antithetical to the American dream, but maybe you need to find a pace where you can just be happy with what you've got.
By the way, it's things like this that make it easier for me to maintain my level of contentment.