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Feed Your Discontent? July 24, 2007

Posted by amybeth in Deep.

I was in the Christian bookstore the other day and skimmed a book by Bill Hybels. I can’t remember the title (sorry), but the theme was figuring out what God has called you to do. His basic premise was that most of us have something that irritates us, some injustice that just totally drives us nuts. Some people eventually get so fed up, that they do something, anything to help bring change in that area. Other people try to alleviate the discomfort by avoiding anything that might stir up that angst. (For example, some people might find that the plight of the homeless really touches them and whenever they hear of government decisions to reduce support to shelters or other things that would negatively affect this population, they get really angry. So…they could choose to get involved and advocate for the homeless or they could turn off the news station).  There are all sorts of issues which affect each individual differently. Something that gets you all stirred up might not even be on my radar screen. Hybel’s challenge was to not avoid those things that create discomfort, but to actually feed our area of discontent, expose ourself to that issue, until it drives us to get involved and that as we get involved, we will find that we walk into our calling, the area in which we feel most fulfilled.

I skimmed another book, a biography by the creator of Veggie Tales, that offered a somewhat different perspective. After the company filed for bankruptcy due to an alleged accusation that was later dropped, God brought this man to a place of stillness before him, teaching him that all his years of driven service had been focused on trying to please God through works and not about getting to know God in relationship. The man (I forget his name) decided that from then on, he wasn’t going to create any long term plans but simply seek God for each decision. He has since started a new company for which he refused to develop the typical 5 yr business plan. He says Christians have no business trying to determine things that far in advance. Instead, he and his employees set aside time to pray together about decisions and seek God for ideas.

In some ways, these two accounts seem opposed to one another, but in other ways, they don’t. They may just be puzzle pieces from different parts of the big picture. What do you think?  How valuable is either piece of advice? Have you experienced an area of discontent, a striving to please God rather than know him, a seeking him first and not worrying about the future?  How have you found balance between doing and being?



1. Hamameliss - August 16, 2007

Ok, I was going to start with just one comment, but then realized that I have more like a treatise on this subject. I can understand the idea of starting from your discontent, but I find in my own life that there are so many different things that feed my discontent, that at least at the moment, I couldn’t possibly do something about all of them. In some ways I feel it is as flawed as those who say that we need to do something about everything that we see that we think should be improved. I’ve found in my own life that if I focus too much on all the things that need to be done, I overextend myself and try to do too much. Maybe some of us only have one area of discontent and others of us have many areas. Is it a matter of how sensitive you are to the issues and things around you? Is it a matter of discerning the scope of the calling God has for each of us?

In some ways I wonder, in our society that is incredibly obsessed with doing things, is God instead calling us to be more? I mean, are we going to be involved in so many different causes and callings in our lives that we cut short our conversations in order to get on to the next thing, when the person we were conversing with needed that extra five minutes to be brave enough to share what is really going on in their heart? I guess more and more I am leaning towards making plans, but making plenty of room in my life for my plans to be broken.

2. Sheepdog - August 19, 2007

Sometimes discontent is good in that it causes us to press forward and ask new questions.

… just a thought.

3. Dwayne - August 21, 2007

I just finished that book – ‘Holy Discontent’ (btw, we have a mutual connection in runningpastor.blogspot.com). I appreciated Hybels use of Popeye’s comment, “That’s all I can stands & I can’t stands no more’. I know exactly what he means. There are many things I don’t like, I wish I could change, but am perfectly able to tolerate. There are one or two things that irk me to the core, and I get to respond, as I see it, in one or two ways: 1) ignore it or 2) embrace it.

If my Holy Discontent is an indicator of my specific purpose on this planet, to ignore it might be to miss out on something specific that God wants me to accomplish. To embrace it, to feed it, is to dive headfirst into my purpose. I can’t afford not to embrace and feed it.

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