Tag Archives: contentment

How to Live the Good Life

By Kevin Howell

Take two minutes to watch this video before you start reading:

A friend of mine shared hilarious video on Facebook. It’s a group of fathers rapping about the “Dad Life”: going to work, cutting the grass, doing yard work on weekends, taking their kids to different functions, driving minivans, and watching Disney movies. It’s comical and pretty much true.

I’m not a father, but having been around my brother and friends with children, that’s exactly what fatherhood is like today.

Obviously the video is a parody of materialistic hip-hop videos where rappers boast about luxury cars, mansions, money, hot chicks, jewelry and other stuff they really don’t own. Unfortunately, hip-hop culture causes the young people it influences to yearn for the “finer” things in life over practical things, like not spending your savings or refund check on $350 belts or $2,500 purses at Barneys (racial profiling aside, what the hell were they thinking?).

Though it would be cool to “ball so hard” like Jay and Ye, I desire the dad life more than the flashy life. And if they’re honest, I bet Jay and Ye are enjoying being new fathers more than entertaining millions (on second thought, it’s impossible to ever know what’s going through Kanye’s mind, so…).

I guess I’ve always been one to appreciate and desire the simple things. Desiring to be a husband and father is a noble goal. And whether you’ve achieved it yet or not, it’s likely the most important thing you’ll ever do. We tend to be fascinated with people who live celebrity-like lifestyles or do extraordinary things. Most of us want to do something extraordinary in our lifetime. It’s good to have big goals for your career, business, organization, etc., yet the simple things in life are often more fulfilling.

The Apostle Paul writes in 1Timothy 6:6 that being godly and content is a life of wealth. Whatever in life makes you content, treasure it. We’re all tempted to covet what others have or a particular lifestyle glamorized in the media. But for me, sitting at home on Saturday morning watching cartoons with the kids is the “good life.” I guess I’m more “Dads in the Suburbs” than “Niggas in Paris.”

You determine what the good life is for you. It may not involve kids, a spouse, and yard work. Just make sure you’re choosing what it is, not the Kardashians or Carters.

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Content with Grace

By Kevin HowellContent with Grace

“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.” Matt. 5:5 (The Message)

For some reason, it took me a long time to become content with who I am. In fact, it’s still an ongoing process. Some days are easier than others.

Sometimes I’m distracted by what others have and what I lack. But sometimes I’m just learning to be comfortable with myself and who I am.

Though I’ve heard things from Oprah to motivational speakers to preachers to televangelists about how to be content and comfortable in your own skin, none of it clicked until I started to grasp an understanding of God’s grace.

Much of my discontent wasn’t rooted in insecurity in what others thought of me or how I appeared to the outside world, to my surprise. My issues came from insecurity with God. As much as I learned of His love and forgiveness, something inside me was still skeptical. I couldn’t accept it as fact. So I felt I was in some way inadequate because every day I wasn’t living to His standard.

That mind-set carried over into my human relationships. If I didn’t feel adequate with God, I couldn’t feel adequate or worthy in my friendships. Surely there would be something uncovered that would ruin people’s perception of me.

There was stuff in me that I didn’t like. There was stuff I did or failed to do that I know God didn’t like. Since I lacked inner peace, I couldn’t be secure in who I was.

But grace changed all of that. 

I helped me realize that despite my faults and failures, I was loved. I knew my past was forgiven, but I had to learn that my present condition and even future failures were already forgiven, nailed to the cross. Yeah, there were things about me that I hated and I’m sure God wasn’t pleased with, but His grace is sufficient for every fault.

It just hit me, over time that I’m loved. I am loved by Him. His love is what matters. If I have peace with Him — who knows me intimately — I don’t have to worry about what others may think of me. That’s was freeing. That’s security. That’s contentment.

“And God’s peace [shall be yours, that tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and being content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace] which transcends all understanding shall garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Phil. 4:7 (Amplified)

 

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The Keys to Contentment

By Kevin Howell

photo by Emmanuel D. Photography
photo by Emmanuel D. Photography

What distracts you from being content? My favorite writer, Don Miller, explored this in a recent blog post where he explained the things he needs in his life to be content.

For me, contentment means fulfillment. If I’m not being fulfilled, I tend to get distracted and look outside my life, which causes discontent. It pushes me to compare my life to others and covet what they have. But when I’m fulfilled, there’s no need to look around anywhere else. I’ll explain it this way:

A friend and I usually go to this restaurant called The Downtown, which has amazing food. My friend usually orders the chicken romano sandwich and raves about it. I’m sure the dish is good, but my favorite is their blackened chicken wrap. I’m so satisfied with the wrap, I don’t care how good his dish is. I’m content with my meal. When you’re fulfilled with what’s on your plate, with what you have in life, there’s no need to eye anyone else’s plate.

Contentment has a different definition for everyone. My definition involves being able to use my creativity and leadership gifts to bring meaning and purpose to my life. Here’s my check list of vital components for contentment:

  • A meaningful project: I must work on something that demands my creativity, devotion, time, and excellence. I think all men (and women) need some sort of project — Adam tended the garden, David herded sheep, Solomon built the temple, Mother Teresa served outcasts, C.S. Lewis wrote books. Whatever it is, I need some sort of meaningful work to pour my heart into.
  • Deep relationships: I can’t function without strong, loving connections with others. That’s why I don’t label anyone as a friend, they’re all considered family.
  • Leading: Quite frankly, I like to run things. I lead. It’s a big responsibility, but I relish it.
  • Mentoring/Serving: I need to use any ounce of wisdom, experience, ability, and compassion I have to help guide and uplift others. To me, that’s what life is about.
  • Alone time: As much as I love others, I need time alone with just me and God to remain balanced.
  • Enjoying what I do: We have 24 hours in a day, 168 hours in a week. Much of that is consumed with labor. Whatever I’m getting paid to do, I got to enjoy it.

If my life is lacking any of these, I tend to stray from satisfaction. I get frustrated, stressed, and start reaching for unhealthy alternatives for fulfillment. Making this list helps me stay on track. Looking back on times of discontent, I can recall that one of these values was missing.

This isn’t an exhaustive list of desires. There are other things I want  (i.e. a wife, more money, or a wife with a lot of money), but this is what I need for peace on a daily basis.

How about you? What are your keys to contentment? Think about it and jot them down. It will help keep you balanced.

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