There’s a certain kind of power that comes with contentment. A truly content person can’t be manipulated. Because they aren’t dependent on receiving or possessing anything in order to be at peace. They’re free. Truly free.
We all want this kind of power–this sense that nothing can touch us or take away our sense of security. The problem is the way we go about trying to gain this power. We think that if we attain a certain salary, make the right real estate investments, or amass a measure of wealth, then we’ll have this power. But we never do. We never have enough to feel truly secure.
The only way we can have this kind of contentment power is if it isn’t tied to the rise or fall of our circumstances. It has to be more resilient than our bank accounts, mutual funds, corporate job titles and benefits packages, or even our social media follower counts.
This is the kind of power that the apostle Paul talked about having in his letter to the church in Philippi.
“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)
But how can we attain this kind of contentment? Here are 4 ways to begin doing just that.
1. Understand that every season is temporary.
Part of learning how to be content in any situation is always bearing in mind that nothing lasts forever. King Solomon spoke this wisdom 3000 years ago.
“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.”
When you realize that everything in life is only for a season it does two things. Firstly, it helps you maintain perspective during the seasons of weeping, mourning, loss, silence, or war. As dark as these seasons may be, they will not last forever.
Secondly, this mindset helps you to truly appreciate the seasons of healing, laughing, dancing, loving, and peace. Knowing that these moments are perhaps fleeting enables you to stop and be fully present to enjoy them.
So regardless of whether you’re living in the moment of a good season or maintaining a long-term perspective in a difficult one, you can be content.
2. Focus on what you have, not on what you want.
Another key way to begin building a sense of contentment is by focusing on what you do have rather than what you don’t. Because when you focus on the good things that you have, what you begin to realize is that you actually have a lot. And when you really think about it, you don’t actually need that much.
Here’s what Paul’s standard of having enough is–it’s just food and clothing.
“But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.” (1 Timothy 6:6-9)
Our desire to be rich will steal our contentment and rob us of our generosity. But when we realize that we’re already rich, we begin to build contentment in our hearts. After all, almost anyone reading this likely has more than adequate food (even if it’s not all organic) and clothing (even if it’s not designer).
3. Tend to every aspect of your well-being.
Contentment is a mindset, and we need to make sure that you’re putting yourself in a healthy position to maintain it. That means tending to your heart through scripture and prayer. But it also means tending to the other aspects of your well-being. Surrounding yourself with community, regularly eating healthy foods, getting some exercise, and maintaining a regular sleep schedule are all essential ways to care for your well-being that we too often neglect.
Tending to your health holistically will keep your tank full, which will keep you from becoming depleted and looking to the wrong places to fill it back up. Be faithful to care for all the things that God cares about in your life and health. This is a blessing that Paul gives to us.
“Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.” (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24, emphasis added)
God cares about your whole being. When you begin to realize that and care about it too, a sense of contentment is just around the corner.
4. Give out of your poverty.
Too many of us think that we need to be rich in order to be generous. But that just isn’t the case–and it breeds discontentment. Because what we fail to realize is that it isn’t about the size of the gift. It’s about the heart of the giver.
We see this played out when Jesus noticed the people giving offerings at the temple in Jerusalem. The rich people were giving large contributions. And the containers holding the offerings were clinging loudly as they poured in their coins. But Jesus wasn’t interested in those donations. He noticed a poor widow who only gave two small copper coins.
And here’s what he said.
“Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.” (Luke 21:3b-4)
When you give out of your poverty, your gift is the biggest. And when you’re able to part with what little you have–because you know that God will take care of you without it–that’s when you begin to unlock the power of contentment.
When you give out of your poverty, your gift is the biggest. And when you're able to part with what little you have–because you know that God will take care of you without it–that's when you begin to unlock the power of contentment. Click To Tweet
Make contentment your superpower.
True contentment is a superpower. If you’re really content, there’s nothing that anybody could ever do to you to take it away. They could rob you, cheat you, withhold from you–and it makes no difference. Even if luck isn’t on your side and the tides turn against you, it’s okay. You still have everything you need.
Cling to Jesus. He really is all you need. And when you realize it, you’ll finally be happy and at rest.