I Shall Not Want...
It has been said, “He who knows that enough is enough will always have enough.” (Lao Tzo) However, the question remains: when is enough enough? The word enough can carry a contrast of meanings crossing the gamut from a minimum requirement (adequate, passable, and tolerable) to a maximum amount (plenty, full, and abundant). How people define and quantify this word is often determined by personal attitudes, circumstances, standards, and context - it can be a very situational scenario.
In life’s journey, we wrestle with three fundamental questions:
- Am I enough? (core issue: acceptance/approval);
- Do I have enough? (core issue: appetite/assets);
- Am I accomplishing enough? (core issue: ambition/achievement).
It’s the ongoing triad of dynamics and dance with the need for protection, provision, and promotion. In our day and age, where the growing drive among so many leaders is to create platforms that showcase their persona and draw applause, accolades, and profits, this discussion on living from a place of contentment couldn’t be more timely.
As leaders, to the degree that we don’t live from a place of contentment, we will be driven by comparison and competition - evaluating ourselves against others we perceive to be more successful than us. How do we cultivate a life marked by contentment where we truly know that we are and have enough and do not drift into unhealthy places of discontentment?
Here are some practices you can engage in individually or as a team to help you develop an attitude of growing contentment and appreciation for all you have and, more importantly, are. I have organized these practices around three movements that need to work in concert:
- Communion - A Life Apart;
- Community - A Life Shared;
- Commission - A Life Given (here I am indebted to, Mere Spirituality - The Spiritual Life According to Henri Nouwen, by Wil Hernandez).
Communion - A Life Apart: In this context, it’s about creating space for solitude, leveraging stillness and silence. We center our hearts on God, allowing ourselves to be attentive to His voice. Call it meditation, contemplation, examen, unplugging, or retreat - the goal is to wait until we hear that small and still voice speak the truth about ourselves; that we are the “beloved” uniquely created and gifted to make a difference in the world. Additionally, this practice helps us live in the moment, to be present in the present, giving us the capacity and opportunity to see, enjoy, and be grateful for the simple things in life. Dr. Julie Rosenberg writes, “contentment comes when we are most aware of the present.”
Community - A Life Shared: The word enough in Swedish is lagom which means “around the whole team.” The idea is that there will be enough to go around for everyone and that no one needs to operate from a place of greed or scarcity like a meal shared around a table where everyone leaves satisfied. Community is the arena where we get to exercise hospitality, mutuality, and solidarity with one another - to share with each other so that at the end of the day, there are “no needy people among them,” echoing the words of Dr. Luke in the book of Acts. If we allow the practices of Communion to affect us, we develop a posture of gratitude for who we are and what we have, which in
turn helps us become more generous toward others. We realize how blessed we are and begin to bless others from this place. The forces of individualism and consumerism are strong and can make us captive to thinking we always need more, better, and bigger if we want to get ahead. This is simply a lie. Less is more, better, and bigger. Why, you ask? Because we have been created to find our purpose in life not by what we keep but by what we give. It is indeed more blessed to give than to receive!
Commission - A Life Given: A seed or a tree, which would you rather have? If we are honest with ourselves, most of us would answer, “a tree, of course - and if we could get a forest, that would even be better!” Yet, it is a seed that gives rise to a tree and, ultimately, a forest. I believe that is what we have been ultimately called to as leaders and followers of Christ - to be the seed given, broken, and sacrificed into the soil of others so that forestation and flourishing of life may take place in their lives. There is enough power and potential in a seed to transform a city and a region, if not the entire world! What are ways that you and your team could serve and bless those in need around you, planting yourselves incarnationally in their neighborhoods and context to see lives changed and transformed?
When is enough enough? I don’t think there is an easy, cut-and-paste, and standardized answer to this question. I believe there is enough to go around, and if this is not the case, I sense that some hoarding is happening somewhere. When we move forward in communion, community, and commission with intentionality and purpose, we will come to a place echoing the words of the Psalmist, “I shall not want.” Why? Because we will have discovered that we are and have enough. Maybe, just maybe, we have not reminded ourselves and others of this enough.
To connect with Allan about finding a long-term healthy fit or to talk about church health, reach out to him via email here.