Sometimes when I’m teaching a sales skills class I’ll ask people to share their undisputed secret to success in sales. Everyone has a different answer it seems. Some tell me how they never give up. Some say it’s their personal skills. Others talk of determination, relentlessness or positioning. Books have been written, classes have been taught and lectures have been given on the subject, but there’s no one answer really. Because of that people keep looking for it hoping it will make them rich in the process. Yet, some of you reading are thinking, “If I had to make a living in sales, I’d starve!” It’s a good thing there are other ways to make a living.
We typically equate money or winning with success, but that’s not always the case. In Judges 20, eleven of the tribes went to fight the tribe of Benjamin because of an evil they had allowed. The eleven prayed asking God which tribe should lead the fight. God told them Judah should. They marched 400,000 men out to battle and we’re quickly beaten by 26,000. They went back to camp, cried and prayed again asking God if they should fight again. God told them yes, and the same thing happened. A third time they prayed and asked God if they should fight or stop. God told them to fight. They were successful this time, but only after taking some devastating losses in the process.
In Philippians 4:12 Paul wrote, “I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little” (NLT). His secret of living was to be content with whatever season God brought him to. Whether he was winning and had all his needs met or was losing and didn’t have anything, he trusted God through it all. Success in life isn’t defined by wins or losses or even your bank account. It’s found in trusting God to be your source no matter what you’re going through. Can you keep going back to Him daily asking if you’re doing the thing He wants you to? Can you trust Him when you don’t have much? Can you recognize Him as your provider when you do? Can you be content with what you have?
As believers, God gives us some pretty incredible gifts. We have the gift of salvation, the gift of the Holy Spirit, the individual gifts of the Spirit and peace. God knows that our outer world is a reflection of our inner world so He gave us the gift of peace. When there is chaos all around us and things are going wrong, we can have peace instead of falling apart. Our inner world doesn’t have to be a reflection of things going on around us. Instead, our trust in God gives us peace no matter what we are facing. It is a driving force in our lives that allows us to be strong when the weight of the world is on our shoulders.
The peace that God gives allows us to have a sense of completeness, a sound mind and contentment. No matter how broken we are, God’s peace makes us whole. When everything around us wants to create fear, God’s peace reminds us that He is in control. When everyone else seems to be prospering and we are not, God’s peace helps us to be content. This gift of peace is strong in the face of adversity and keeps our eyes on God. We need to rely on it more than we do so that we can allow it to replace the worry and fear inside of us. Remember that God has not forgotten you – He’s equipped you for whatever you will face in life with the gifts He’s given you. Hold onto them and use them so your faith can be strong.
Here are some Bible verses on God’s gift of peace.
1. I leave the gift of peace with you—my peace. Not the kind of fragile peace given by the world, but my perfect peace. Don’t yield to fear or be troubled in your hearts—instead, be courageous!
John 14:27 TPT
2. I am listening to what the Lord God is saying; he promises peace to us, his own people, if we do not go back to our foolish ways.
Psalm 85:8 GNT
3. And the peace of God [that peace which reassures the heart, that peace] which transcends all understanding, [that peace which] stands guard over your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus [is yours].
PHILIPPIANS 4:7 AMP
4. Now may the Lord of peace himself give you his peace at all times and in every situation. The Lord be with you all.
2 Thessalonians 3:16 NLT
5. GOD makes his people strong. GOD gives his people peace.
One of the dangers of social media is that it can create internal discontentment. What I mean by that is you can spend time looking at what other people are doing, eating or where they’re going and think your life is boring by comparison. You can look at the happy pictures they post and think that they’re always happy and never have trouble. The problem is what people are putting on social media is the life they want to show you. It’s not their whole life. What we end up doing is comparing our whole life to these snippets of their life and that creates discontentment in us and in who God made us to be.
God created you and uses life to sheep you more and more into a person who can have a greater impact on others. When we remove the lens of social media, and look at our life through God’s lens, we can see He has given us a unique ability to reach people who can’t be reached by others. I don’t think social media is bad, but we can’t use it as the lens through which we view our lives. We have to be content with how God created us, the personality He’s given us and where He’s placed us. That kind of contentment is truly trusting in His plan for you, and when we trust Him that much anything is possible.
Here are some Bible verses on being content.
1. You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.
Matthew 5:5 MSG
2. I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and difficulties for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12:10 GNT
3. Don’t be obsessed with money but live content with what you have, for you always have God’s presence. For hasn’t he promised you, “I will never leave you alone, never! And I will not loosen my grip on your life!”
Hebrews 13:5 TPT
4. Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have.
Philippians 4:11 NLT
5. But godliness actually is a source of great gain when accompanied by contentment [that contentment which comes from a sense of inner confidence based on the sufficiency of God].
Earlier this year, I took an assessment for work. It was designed to show me the reluctances I have at doing part of my job. As we went through the class where they explain the different reluctances, I could see myself in some of them. Then they gave us our results. One of the ones I scored highest in was the Hyper Professional category. It said I have a tendency to want to always look the part – which is true because for years I wore my tie until it was time for bed.
As I began to think about that particular score, I wondered why was I a Hyper Professional. I asked myself hard questions and traced it back to my childhood. I wanted to fit in with the other kids, but my parents lacked the funds to afford the name brand clothes. In my mind, I thought that if I dressed a certain way, wore certain shoes, and did things a certain way, I would gain acceptance. This line of thinking became who I was all the way into my adult life which dictated where I lived, what I drove, and I presented myself.
This test revealed to me that I wasn’t content with who I was and that I was compensating for it in how I presented myself. It was a real eye opener. I realized that I needed to be content with who I am, and that I didn’t need those things to gain acceptance. Once I had that aha moment, I began to let go of desires to have certain things that I thought I needed. I began to see how pervasive this line of thinking had become in my life, and it brought me to the where I realize that I need to be content with who God made me to be. I don’t need the material things to enhance that.
I tell you this because so many of us struggle with feelings that tell us we are not enough which then compel us to compensate in other ways. In Matthew 5, Jesus gave us the Beatitudes which are declarations of blessings to us. In verse 5, He said, “You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought” (MSG). When you and I come to that moment of contentment with who we are by God’s design, we’ll find the happiness and acceptance we’ve been looking for. It’s not found in shoes, cars, watches, or clothes; it’s found in understanding you were designed to be you on purpose and for a purpose.
What ways have you been compensating to find acceptance and happiness? How can you release them in order to find contentment with who you are?
All along my commute to and from work are billboards for neighborhoods. They have slogans like, “The life you deserve”, “Life’s better up here”, “The life you’ve always wanted” and “Life more than you’ve imagined.” All are for different neighborhoods, but their message is clear. They understand that we all want something more. Something better. They know that we are rarely happy with what we have because there is always something better on the horizon.
It’s not wrong to want something better than you have right now. It’s not wrong to work harder to provide a better life for your family than you had when you were growing up. We have to be careful though in thinking that our possessions bring us happiness or that more money will bring more contentment. It’s ok to have things as long as the things don’t have you. Our money, possessions or where we live are not meant to define us. Our identity should be found in God.
In the “Sermon on the Mount” found in Matthew 5, Jesus gave us the Beatitudes. Verse five says, “You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are – no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.” Jesus knew we would get caught up in the “Keeping up with the Joneses” mentality. He knew that we would be tempted to forget that all we have is from Him.
He also knew that we would think that possessions would bring us happiness. I like the way that the Amplified version defines “blessed” in verse 5. It says, “Happy, blithesome, joyous, spiritually prosperous with life-joy and satisfaction in God’s favor and salvation regardless of their outward conditions.” When we learn to be content with who He made us to be and with the things He’s entrusted to us, we will receive all those things. We won’t have to rely on a neighborhood, car, job title or anything else to bring us happiness. We won’t have to keep up with the Joneses to define our worth.
In fact, Jesus said that regardless of our outward conditions we will find happiness and joy once we learn to be content. Paul said in Philippians 4:11 that he learned how to be content with whatever he had whether a little or a lot. God wants us to recognize that what we have is from Him so we need to learn to be content. We still need to work hard and be faithful with what He’s given us. When we show Him we can do that, it opens the door for Him to give us more. If you’re looking for happiness today, don’t look to your possessions, look to God and be content with who you are.
One of the great mysteries that guys wonder about is why do we get fine China when we never use it. It sits in a cabinet for years never being used. It looks good. It’s expensive. It’s on display for all to see. When are we ever going to use it? On special occasions is what we’re told. Those rarely come about, so those plates just sit there. They’re waiting to be used. They’re perfectly capable of being used, but they’re on display. They rarely reach their potential.
What we end up using are our daily plates. They cost a lot less, but get used often. They’re pulled out of a cabinet that you can’t see through, they’re used for every meal, washed and hidden again. These plates earn their keep and are always reaching their potential. Constantly being used for every day use. That’s the way I want to be used by God.
Some people are like fine China. They look good, they’re on display for all the world to see, but they are rarely used by God. I think it’s mainly because they think they’re fragile and stay in a place locked up and away from where they can reach their potential. Being used by God is messy business. You get dirty. You need to be washed often. A lot of us don’t like that so we stay away from situations where we can be used all the time.
I’m not like that. I don’t mind being hidden and out of sight as long as God can use me daily. I realize that it means I’ll need to be washed by the Word often. It also means that Im in that place of full potential where God sees fit to use me for His every day purposes. It may not be glamorous and it may not get much attention from outside of those that are being helped, but I’m being used for what I was made for.
I guess it boils down to what we’re content with. Are we content by being on display and never used for our purpose or are we content when we’re being used by God? If it’s the latter, are we placing ourselves where He can best use us? Are we willing to get dirty doing His work? Do we mind that it’s not glamorous or a special occasion? If not, then chances are we will be used by Him. It just won’t garner a lot of praise from others. You’re doing what you were created to do. Serve.
Each one of us has a purpose. We have a destiny to fulfill. There are things in this world that God needs accomplished and only you can do it. Your experiences and the things you’ve gone through were allowed and designed by God to prepare you for your purpose. Instead of looking at those times in your life as hindrances to your purpose, embrace them as preparation for your purpose. Be who God made you to be and put yourself on the table to be used by God for your every day potential.