As youth leaders, we all have times where we wrestle with discontent. Our senior pastor doesn’t really support us, the parents are complaining, the church board has voted against a salary increase, the students aren’t attending in the same numbers they used two a while back…and we are discontent.
We struggle, we pray (or not), we wonder…Is it time to move on? Should we take another job? Get out of youth ministry completely?
While there may be legitimate reasons to be concerned about our role as youth leader, there is one thing that doesn’t help: feeding our discontent. Feeding our discontent only throws fuel on a fire already burning and if we’re not careful it may get out of control.
We should be content
God has specifically told us to be content with what we have. There’s that famous commandment about not coveting our neighbor’s whatever for instance. Sure, other youth pastors may seem to be better off and they certainly make more money and get more support, but allowing those thoughts, actively feeding those thoughts is coveting. It’s a sin.
Then there are Paul’s words about rejoicing in every circumstance. And that man knew what he was talking about: he had every right to be discontent considering his trials and circumstances. But he wasn’t and he has shown us a path to follow: do not feed your discontent, but rejoice in all circumstances.
What not feeding your discontent looks like
So what does that look like, not feeding your discontent? Here’s what I think: it starts with acknowledging there is (a seed of) discontent. That in itself is understandable, we all have days, weeks and even months where everything seems to go wrong. But it’s what we do with that feeling that’s important. You need to make the decision to not feed your discontent.
Confess your discontent to God. Explain Him what’s going on in your mind, in your heart and soul. Talk to Him about it. Then ask Him for His perspective. Ask Him to help you see what He sees or what He wants you to see.
Stay away from anything that will make your discontent grow. I’m thinking of searching online for jobs or experiences from others, complaining to other people (though discussing it with a godly friend certainly isn’t wrong, if your purpose is to get someone else’s perspective), allowing yourself to constantly think about it, making mental lists of why you have every reason to be discontent, etc.
Instead, feed your joy. Celebrate what you have done, what you have accomplished. Make new plans, develop a new vision with God about what you could do to turn things around. Rejoice in who God is and what He has done for you. Make the choice to starve your discontent and see what happens then.
Do you recognize this ‘feeding of your discontent’? What does that look like for you?