(Note: A downloadable PDF copy of this lesson is available on the last page.)
EVERYONE SEEKS CONTENTMENT
Almost everyone who comes to my consulting room has been in pursuit of the advantages of life, but something or someone went wrong.
Their contentment and sense of self-worth or self-respect has been shattered. If self-respect and self-worth is intact, then the loss of contentment is attributed to the behavior of the offending person or to the circumstances that have shifted to one’s disadvantage.
PLAYING THE ADVANTAGES-DISADVANTAGES GAME?
Let me list some of the advantages we may be chasing and some of the disadvantages we are trying to eliminate.
|Advantages and Disadvantages|
|education||lack of education|
|high position||low position|
|retirement plan||no retirement plan|
My clients tell me that advantages (or overcoming the disadvantages) do not lead to contentment, joy, peace, or a sense of self-worth and self-respect.
We watch the lives of the famous and the popular end in misery. The same goes for the healthy, the educated, the rich, the powerful.
It’s a frustrating world. Mechanical failures, impolite and careless people, social errors, noisy children, misunderstandings, and poor planning seem to make us angry-–in spite of advantages.
Some years ago, a nationally respected head of the family relations department of a university put a bullet through his head. He was educated but miserable.
One couple came to consult with me in separate cars because they couldn’t stand to be in the same car together. One car was a Cadillac, the other a Mercedes.
They lived in a professionally decorated, color-coordinated house. They had unlimited wealth but couldn’t purchase friendship.
Another client had responsibility for several thousand employees. He had plenty of power but he couldn’t command tension and bitterness to leave his body.
THE GAME PRODUCES LOSERS
By now you get my point. Surely, anyone would prefer to be educated, wealthy, powerful, and contented rather than uneducated, poor, powerless, and contented.
Nothing against advantages, you understand. But it is clear that advantages are just that–advantages. They, in themselves, do not produce contentment, joy, peace, a sense of self-worth or self-respect. If you play the advantages-disadvantages game, you’ll always come up a loser.
That’s quite a statement. If advantages don’t produce these inner qualities, what does?
How can you be a Christian and be contented? How can you be famous and happy? Rich and at peace with yourself? Single and content? Married and happy? Poor and still enthusiastic about life? No beauty queen, yet with a good self-image?
There is an answer.
The next few pages may be a bit heavy reading, but they will launch us into finding the key to contentment. Jesus gives us the key in a reply to a question put to Him by a lawyer who asked:
Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law? And He said to him: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and foremost commandment. And a second is like it. You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:36-39).