Contentment Is Learned

I don’t make enough money. I didn’t get enough sleep last night. Workplace negativity annoys me. Extreme social behaviors fueled by the pandemic often cause me to have ill feelings towards others.

Can you relate, or am I alone on this?

While all of these statements are true for me in my head, I also recognize that the magnitude of their truth only grows when I give it permission.

I don’t make enough money. Actually, I do. ‘Enough’ is relative. I have enough because God always provides for my needs. I may not have excess, but excess is not essential.

I didn’t get enough sleep last night. True…but I could have went to bed earlier. I wasn’t proactive.

Workplace negativity annoys me. Ok, so why don’t I choose to allow it to energize me to be an element for change toward more positivity?

Extreme social behaviors fueled by the pandemic often cause me to have ill feelings towards others. It is what it is. I’m not going to singlehandedly change societal behaviors, most of which are personal pet peeves anyway. I even talked with my therapist about this. (Yes I’m in therapy. Healthy people seek help while unhealthy people remain unhealthy in their solitude) She challenged me, “Why are you allowing others (strangers) to occupy so much of your limited emotional capacity?” Yeah, good question.

You see, all of these examples of mine are choices. Choices for action or mindset. Choosing to take the better path is usually more difficult and requires conscious effort. But we CAN do it!

“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 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. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Philippians‬ ‭4:11-13‬

The apostle Paul wrote this in one of his letters while imprisoned. He had learned to be content because of his past experiences, both of pain and joy. He shares that in every circumstance he has learned the ability to ‘do all things’ in order to live in contentment because of the strength made available to him through Jesus.

Now, you and I don’t always have the ability to change the circumstances around us. But we do have choices regarding how we model walking through them.

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The Piece Of ThanksGIVING We Often Miss

I would argue that most of us tend to view Thanksgiving as a time of enjoying the bounties of life with those closest to us. The copious platters of turkey, stuffing, and pie serve as reminders to us that we really do have much to be thankful for.

This approach, however, limits the full opportunity that Thanksgiving provides us. thankful-quote

Thanksgiving is also a designated time of GIVING ‘thanks.’ It’s being mindful of those things that we subconsciously take for granted. And the ‘giving’ aspect of Thanksgiving is meant to be the verbal recognition of these blessings to the people who are connected to them. Additionally, being mindful of all that we should be thankful for actually works to prevent entitlement. Pastor and author, John Ortberg, put it this way.

“Gratitude is the ability to experience life as a gift. It liberates us from the prison of self-preoccupation.”

This is so true! When we view life as a gift, rather than something we’ve earned, it’s more difficult to grow big-headed egos. David expressed it this way in Psalm 9:1.

“I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.”

Here are 3 practical tips for exercising gratitude.

  1. Search the internet for a new passage of scripture or quote on gratitude each day. Then, meditation on it for 2-5 minutes.
  2. Jot down 3 things you are thankful for in your life and post it on your fridge or next to your coffee maker. Make a new list each week.
  3. Thank someone, no matter how small it might seem, each day for how they contributed positively to your life.

What would you add to this list? Comment below.

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Thankfulness Determines Leadership Ability (1/3)

“Thanks so much for the phone call the other day.  I’ve actually never had a pastor call me before.”

Have you ever received a word of thanks from out of the blue?  The statement above came from a young lady who’s fairly new to our church.  I wasn’t expecting it, and the context definitely was not something I felt deserving of gratitude.  It was a simple follow up call.  But to her…it was meaningful.


I was reading one of Michael Hyatt’s blog posts today on the advantages of being grateful and it got me thinking.  Some of the most influential leaders in my life over the years have exhibited grateful hearts.

– It was easy to observe their gratefulness for the blessings in their life.

– They would constantly say ‘Thank you’ to those serving around them, especially in the Church.

In addition to the great points that Michael Hyatt makes, showing and verbalizing gratitude also rubs off on others.  This can be referred to as one aspect of discipleship.  Other circles might call it Leadership Development.

“Expressed gratitude helps attract and produce great leaders.” 

Think back.  When was the last time someone you look up to or admire complimented or thanked you?  (hopefully it hasn’t been too long ago)  Do you remember how it made you feel?  I’m guessing appreciation, honor, respect, and value are some feelings that resulted.  So this week, say ‘Thank You’ to someone….anyone.  Try to do this once a day.  You might be surprised at the results.

Question:  Who or what are you thankful for when you really take time to think about it?  Leave a comment below.  

Be sure to check out Part 2 and Part 3 of this topic.

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Thankfulness Determines Leadership Ability (3/3)

“Making an itemized list of everything we’re thankful for can really be an eye-opener.”

This Thanksgiving, try making an extensive list of EVERYTHING you are thankful for.  It doesn’t have to take a lot of time either.  You can even make it a fun challenge involving the whole family.  For example, simply see how many items you can list in 5 minutes or less.

* Note:  Be sure to check out part 1 and part 2 of this series on ‘Gratitude.’

OK, so how can this list exercise be an eye-opener for us?

– It forces us to think beyond the obvious.  (family, house, job, etc.)

– We are usually surprised at how many things we can actually list.

– Often we will notice things on our list that we recently viewed as trials or difficulties.

I once did this regarding our Anniversary.  I intended to list the top 21 attributes I love about my wife.  You know what happened?  I couldn’t stop.  I ended with many more simply because I took time to really think on the issue.

And this can have a profound effect on our personal lives as well as professional, especially in leadership.

“Focused gratitude allows leaders to not take things for granted.” 

Maybe you’d say to me, “I can’t do this this week.  I really don’t have anything to be thankful for.  You don’t know the year I’ve had.”  While that is true, I don’t know what kind of year you have had, I do know this.  No matter how bad a situation seems, there’s always a deeper level of ‘BAD.’  In other words, things can always get worse than they are.  So, one way to be thankful is to notice all the things have not happened yet and rejoice in those truths.

For me, I can name 3 or 4 things we’ve endured in 2014 that I hope to never go through again.  The pain and exhaustion almost crushed me.  And without God’s grace and guidance, they would have.  But, I choose to focus on the many other amazing things that have blessed me this past year.  When I do that, it overshadows all the negative.

Question:  After making your list, what was your reaction to this experience?  Leave a comment below.  
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Thankfulness Determines Leadership Ability (2/3)

Knowing the difference between being thankful and expressing gratitude will make an impact on your leadership.

Being thankful is the first step.  It’s a heart issue.  When our thankfulness stops there, however, the only people who know about your thankfulness are you and God.

In part 1 of this series on ‘Gratitude,’ I talk about how expressing thankfulness for those around us actually models healthy leadership.  Today, I want to look at ‘being’ vs. ‘expressing.’  There is a difference.

I can be the most grateful husband, father, and pastor there ever was… but without letting others know, my thankful heart benefits no one.

So, what are some practical ways to express ‘Thanks’ to others?

– Say it!  (this is the easiest one)  And me specific.  Say, “Thanks for giving up some time on your Saturday” or, “I really appreciate your attention to detail.”

– Write a Thank You note to them on social media and tag them.

– Email or text them a private, specific word of thanks.

– Post a photo on Instagram of an individual or group and say something about how they add to your life.

– Give them a hug.  (and not an emoji)

– A phone call mid-week, even on a voicemail, can add huge value to someone’s day.

– Write a simple sentence or two in a Thank You card and snail-mail it.  (yes, I mean with stamps. They still make those.)

Gender Issues | If you’re married, exercise wisdom when expressing ‘Thanks’ to members of the opposite sex.  For example, I do side hugs with women, have my wife sign ‘Thank You’ cards with me, and cc my wife on emails that are just sent to individual women.  We simply don’t want to ever send the wrong message, to them or anyone observing us.


“Expressed gratitude clarifies things of value in our life.” 

Whoever it is…whatever it’s for…and however small or large the ‘Thanks’ may be, simply let your heart of gratitude be known.  Start this week of Thanksgiving and let it be ongoing.

Question:  What are some creative ways you have either expressed or received thanks?  Leave a comment below.  

Also, be sure to check out Part 1 and Part 3 of this blog series.