How about that title for an attention grabber? Yes folks, it is true that even pastors experience discontentment. That is not to say that it is right to be discontent. Actually it is quite the opposite. It is sin, and one that we all too often excuse and even embrace. In my life, I have seen how sinful and troubling discontentment can be. See if this resonates with you.
Anxiety Starts It All
I have anxiety when I worry about the uncertainty of the ministries I lead. Will people sign up for events? Will folks come to church? Will the folks I lead day-to-day follow where I am trying to lead them? All these are my fears and my sinful worrying over things that I have no control over and have not even happened yet. God speaks directly to this in 1 Peter.
1 Peter 5:6-7 6Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 7casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
Anxiety Leads to Frustration
I am frustrated when my hopes and dreams don’t pan out. I find my mood and attitude towards the rest of life is dictated by circumstances that I don’t always have control over. All of this frustration is rooted in my desire to please men. I am not seeking to please God first when these frustrations rule my life. I want to be seen as important. I want to be someone that leads big things. I want to be exalted. I want to have no weakness and no difficulty. That is the essence of sin! God speaks directly to this as well.
2 Corinthians 12:7-10 7 So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud. 8 Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. 9 Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 10 That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Frustrations Left Unchecked Create Discontentment
At times I live in the mire of discontentment. I forget to cast my anxiety on God with my job, my family, my friends, my hobbies; you name it, I have been discontent with it all. Unless I confess my fears and my frustrations, I will never see a way out of this discontentment.
What about you? What are your fears? Those fears lead to frustrations when what you hope would happen doesn’t happen. Maybe you have to kill yourself to get the job done, the promotion you are wanting doesn’t come, you don’t have the money and the bills are coming in, you don’t know what to do in a tough time in your marriage, you feel set aside by folks that you want to be closest to. You have to think through these questions. You have to deal with what is really going on in your heart. If you cannot do that, pray what the Psalmist prayed.
Psalm 139:23-24 23 Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! 24 And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!
When as children we were afraid of the monster in our closet, we were comforted by the words of our parents assuring us there was nothing to fear. When as children we were frustrated over some disappointment in our lives, it was the assurance and love of our parents that showed us there would still be tomorrow and that perhaps God had another way. In the same way, we must listen to the words of our heavenly Father.
Dear friend… You must understand that lasting contentment will never be found in your desires or in your ability to avoid frustration. It will only be found when your desire is for God’s will. Discontentment will always be our problem when we refuse to hear what our loving heavenly Father says to dispel our fears and frustrations. We must begin to see past what we want to what God is doing in our lives.
Philippians 4:11-13 11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
Are you discontented? Do you feel like I have felt? Discontentment is a sin because it takes our eyes off of the eternal truth that God is sovereign and is at work in His world. Your circumstances aren’t random, and they are not a surprise to God. Your path to freedom today begins when you confess and receive God’s grace in forgiveness. Then you begin to obey what we see in God’s word and joyfully follow your loving Father in His plan and work in His world.