As we approach Thanksgiving this week, I had one thought that I wanted to share. One tension that I often experience and realize that living in one extreme or the other is not a healthy way to resolve the tension we feel.
Goals vs Contentment.
If you really break down the true essence of a “goal” – you could just say “more”. Goals are our way of saying we want more. We believe more is available. We think if we can achieve more, that it will result in a future outcome that we think is better than our current reality.
The positive side of GOALS is a driven person who accomplishes great things.
The negative side of GOALS is that is can mask our insatiable envy and greed for more.
If you really break down the true essence of “containment” – you could just say “enough”. Contentment at its root is an attitude of having enough. I have enough money. I have enough joy in my family. I have enough success in my job. Enough is often associated with having peace.
The positive side of CONTENTMENT is a true peace no matter where we happen to be in life.
The negative side of CONTENTMENT is that people use it as an excuse to settle and give up on what God might have for their future.
Content has a great verse too.
Philippians 4:11 “Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have.”
Paul goes on to say he has learned to live with nothing and with everything. With a full belly or a hungry one, it didn’t matter – he was content. This is often the argument of Christians who see goal driven people as success/money/achievement hungry animals who will never be satisfied.
However, if you’ve read anything about Paul – he was one of the most DRIVEN, PASSIONATE, GOAL-ORIENTED people in the New Testament. He planted the majority of churches outside of Jerusalem over 3 “world tours” and spent his time continuing to work and spread the Good News.
So… are these 2 ideals in conflict with each other?
Is there any power in the tension they seem to cause within us?
Here are my thoughts (still only 40 years into my journey, I’m sure I have more to learn).
Goals are Necessary – There is nothing inherently wrong with having goals. I have a goal to be a better dad. I want “more” of a closer walk with Christ. It is the DIRECTION of our goals that are critical to the outcomes they provide. If my goal is to make more money because I’ve committed to be more generous (give it away) with what resources I have rather than to store up or consume more – it changes the not only the outcome but the root of the goal itself. Goals push us out of our comfort zone to experience what the Holy Spirit is able to do on our behalf. If the goal aligns with God’s purpose for your life, then you need to work, strive, and push yourself while allowing God to ultimately bring that success to life
Contentment is Core – Contentment is understanding the balance of satisfaction with the outcomes that God allows/provides. We need to be at peace. Envy, lust, greed, pride – these are the enemies of our peace! This is why I don’t miss commercials on TV (go Netflix!). I don’t want to be constantly told through media through subtle messages that my car is too old, my phone is antiquated, and my house needs more (fill in the blank). We need to strive to be satisfied with where we are, yet not allowing it to mask an attitude of giving up or settling for less.
The key to both of these ideals. GRATITUDE!
Gratitude is living with an attitude of thankfulness for what we have, what season of life we are in, and who we are surrounded by. Gratitude is ALSO an attitude of thankfulness for what opportunity lies ahead, what could be, and what God might have in store for us as we strive, grow, and live our lives to the full!
I’m grateful for the drive in me. I’m a very goal-driven person. I see a future of “more” – but it doesn’t keep me from enjoying where I am and being thankful for the life I’ve lived. I hope to still be as goal driven when I’m 65, 75, and 85! At the same time, I am extraordinarily thankful for the season of life God has given me. I’m could be more satisfied with the love of my family, friends, and church family.
I’m choosing this Thanksgiving to THANK GOD for BOTH – where I am (contentment) and where He’s taking me (through goals)!
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!