Andrew Collins: The Contentment Myth

Posted by in Faith | December 17, 2013

Okavango Delta - Lilly Pad Flower Reflection

Editor’s Note: First of all, let me just say how fortunate we are to have Andrew on staff at IRON and FIRE. His ambition and over-sized heart are exactly what we expect and need of our student ministry specialists. That said, it’s no surprise that he feels primed for disappointment, having risen through the college ranks, and having been promised so much by the academic world’s standards. In this vulnerable piece, Andrew explains what it means to live by the Lord’s standards instead, and how to find contentment, right where you are.

I am having an incredibly hard time with this one tiny word: contentment.

Having recently graduated and having just started my first job, I hold huge hopes, expectations, and dreams of what I want to build or become. It’s the college mindset, after all. We are to stand on the shoulders of giants and view the world as changeable. We are to believe we are invincible and have the ability to achieve anything we can dream. This mentality sets our expectations and hopes about such dreams (and how fast we will achieve them) incredibly high, until we end up confused, frustrated, angry, or discouraged, when we fail to see the progress we imagined. We feel miniscule and meaningless. But Why do we feel that way? Why do we think the world is ours to change? Is the 9-5 desk job a failure? These questions and others surround us in a whirlwind of high expectations and let-downs, when our work doesn’t immediately feel impactful.

From the age of toddlers, we are always saying, “More! More! More!” The toys we get for Christmas are only enough until the next day, when we want everything that our friends got for Christmas, as well. Picture the teenagers who seem to never have the perfect car or the incredibly hot girlfriend or the best grades, who aren’t the best athletes or the most popular, who don’t have the all-star status in youth group, and won’t get into the best colleges. Now imagine that I posed the question, “If I gave you all these things, would you not find something else that you wanted?” How would we respond?

We are creatures of need! We were gloriously made that way. It was not a fluke. The problem isn’t in the design, but in the places we seek to fulfill that design. We so often miss the beauty of our deep needs being met in an all-satisfying God. Contentment is hard!

I’ve especially learned this in ministry. I am so often thinking and asking myself, “Am I there yet?” There where? Why is There so important? If I do arrive There, will There not just become another place to strive toward the next time? There will always be here. Which begs the question, what then makes me content with being here? I love the way the apostle Paul answers this question.

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.
Phil. 4:11-13

My There is found in Christ always. Whether it be my next few seconds or my next few years, my There is found in Christ. We have a beautiful paradox of having already arrived in the finished work of Christ, which frees us to run with gladness and endurance while we’re Here (Forget the T), because Christ has already arrived. “The more my contentment is in circumstances and achievements, the more my joy will be hijacked by discontentment” – Adam Ramsey.

See, Christ allows us Contentment for today, right Here. So rest in Christ and stop worrying so much about getting There.

Andrew Collins

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