Paul, Paul, Paul… why did you have to say that?! Really?
I’m not sure about you, but this verse has always been quite the challenge and wake up call. For years, I have struggled to believe it was possible. I’d dismiss it as one of those Bible verses that seemed too far out of my reach. An impossible standard. I’d tell myself…
“That’s just not my personality type.”
“God just didn’t wire me that way.”
“I’ll always have an internal drive that keeps me pushing for more in life.”
Even with my justifications, I always felt guilty and would quickly find something else to get my mind on.
Looking back, I knew within 10 minutes of my arrival at our new church that my very first full time staff position was going to be a long and difficult road. I know, I know. 10 minutes in is hardly enough time to unlock the U-Haul door to start unpacking… how did I know this? Well, when the individual from the church that was assigned to help you unload (also known as the sound guy) says to you, “Keep those boxes – you’ll probably need them in a few months,” it’s a bit challenging to not feel at least a little unnerved. I asked myself…
“Was he saying what I thought he was saying? Did I hear him correctly? Was he implying that’d I’d be wanting to move?
Yep… that’s exactly what he meant. And he was right.
I’ll make a very long story short and spare you the gory details. In fact, I’m going to leave out most of them because more than likely you’ll understand exactly what took place without having to know them. But here are just a few…
It was a congregation made up of 85% Senior Adults. The church had been there for over 75 years. It had recently gone through a church split — over the music. The new Pastor (now my boss) was convinced the church needed progressive worship music regardless of the makeup of the people. I was too green and young at the time to have known the questions I should have asked during my interview (that might have given me some “warnings” about what I was walking into). Ok… end of details.
Three and a half — very long — years later, I’m still serving at this church. Throughout this time, I found myself face to face with the above verse because there was NO way I could find satisfaction in the place He had led me. Still, the Holy Spirit was relentless in bringing this issue up in my heart. I couldn’t ignore it.
“Dale, as challenging as this is, “Good job.”
“Wait Lord. What did you say?”
“That doesn’t feel very deserved. I’m confused.”
“Have you been sending out resumes?”
“Have you been plotting your escape?”
“No. Well, there was that one time, but it didn’t pan out and would have required… well never mind.”
“Right. Have you loved my people?’
“I think so. I mean there are obviously areas I could do bett–“
“Right. Have you begrudged the responsibilities in it?”
“No. It’s what I’m passionate about.”
“Do you still have goals and dreams for it?”
“Yes. But we are far from that.”
“That’s irrelevant. They’re alive in your heart.”
“Good job. You’re content.”
“Then why am I so frustrated?”
“Oh that… LOL! You’re just not satisfied.”
I had to stop. I replayed the prayer and conversation. It had never occurred to me there was a difference between CONTENTMENT and SATISFACTION. What a profound moment in my life, my heart, and my understanding. The pressure lifted off and peace flooded in. The example of Paul in prison writing such a crazy and insane statement finally made sense. Paul was content in prison but not satisfied there. Paul was not fighting God’s will for his life – he accepted his circumstance and still worshipped and walked in faithfulness. But had you asked him – if you were able to look deep in his heart – there is no doubt he would have rather been out on the street preaching and proclaiming Jesus Christ to anyone who would listen. I’m certain you would see some dissatisfaction down in there too.
Contentment is not fighting the things God brings your way.
Contentment is being faithful to the things God calls and leads you to do.
Contentment is having a peace that He is in control even though things may look out of it.
I’ve come to terms with my dissatisfaction in certain parts of life. It’s part of what keeps us on our knees. And in fact, can be the very tool that God uses to keep us pushing on. Fighting the good fight. Dare we find contentment in our dissatisfaction?
Dale Bleam is LifeWay Worship’s Sales Supervisor & Strategist. Or as he says, “Supervisor of the best sales team I’ve ever had the privilege of working with.” With 20+ years in church music sales…he would know! In addition, his other titles include: Husband, Dad, Worship Pastor, Songwriter, Teacher, Volunteer Firefighter, XBOX Champion and Weightlifter. And here’s a fun fact, he listens to his music LOUD. He keeps our hallways filled with joyful sounds. If LifeWay Worship was a radio station, he’d be our DJ.