Vacations have been canceled, workspaces are turned upside down, kids are schooling from home, through all of this, how do you find contentment? We have some answers in this week’s podcast. + Find more free resources on our website: walkandtalk.org
Note: Below is a transcription of this Walking Our Talk podcast. Please excuse any grammatical or punctuation flaws, as the transcription is a written version of our fluid conversation.
Alan [00:00:00] Welcome today to Walking Our Talk. This is Alan Heller, and I am looking forward to talking about something that probably is probably pretty relevant today in the midst of our COVID environment. Finding contentment in the chaos.
Alan [00:00:18] One of the things we try and do here at Walking Our Talk is we’re trying to walk out that which we are talking about. And one of the issues that all of us tend to find a difficult time doing, especially when our world is turned upside down, is being able to walk out our talk in the area of contentment. How do I get contentment?
Alan [00:00:51] Well, I think one of the things we do is we look to what’s going on inside. And let me just say that we have a lot of podcasts and information and things that you can draw from on our Web site: walkandtalk.org. Please feel free to avail yourself. Go there and just, you know, see what is there that might interest you. But this whole idea of contentment is an inside job. You take you wherever you go, you take you wherever you go. So contentment, we think many times is found in the external. Now, I think the external can help with contentment. But I don’t think the externals are going to be the thing that makes us content. Because much of contentment has to do, you know, First Thessalonians, 5:17 says to give thanks in everything because this is the will of God concerning you. And so to be content, we need to be thankful. But how can you be thankful when vacations are canceled, when school becomes a zoom meeting for five hours a day with little kids? When the kids are home, the husband’s home. And we’re trying to work from home in this COVID environment, you know, even before COVID, there were issues, I’m sure that we had with contentment. And the key we will find is to deal with what’s going on, on the inside.
Alan [00:02:52] I remember a time where I, about 10 years ago, our 32-year-old son Josh was dying of cancer. He had colorectal cancer and we’ve talked about this before. But during that time, I basically was taking the year to serve him. And then about a year later, after he died, I had a bout with clinical depression. I just could not think. So here I had all the time in the world, but my brain wasn’t working and so I was taking a forced sabbatical. Really what we need is to be able to take sabbaticals when we plan them and we do things that really fill our cup and helped give us joy and give input into our life, especially if we’re in a ministry situation or in a work situation where we’re constantly giving out and giving leadership or just constantly working and need a break. And so here I had time where I had a break, but it was a forced break and I couldn’t think. And so contentment was very hard to find.
Alan [00:04:13] So I have a message that’s called How to Keep Your Cup Full when everyone’s poking holes in it. That could be the little kids that keep hanging on you. That could be the workers that you are managing that keep asking you questions that you can’t answer. There are all kinds of cup fillers and cup drainers.
Alan [00:04:37] So I want you to take a moment right now. If you have a piece of paper or you can do it on your phone or computer, but just get a blank piece of paper and think about what our cup drainers. What are the things that drain life out of you? To maybe stop the tape. Take a moment and do that.
Alan [00:05:01] So some of the cup drainers that I have are I am not particularly good at detail work. Things that happen over and over again that are monotonous. That just is very hard for me to deal with. And so many times in my life in the morning is my best time from five o’clock till about five a.m. till 12:00. So I’m a morning person. If I have difficult administrative things to do, that’s when I try and do it, because it takes the most energy out of me. Of course, one of the things I could do to help deal with that cup drainer is get somebody else who’s gifted in that that loves detail and have them do it. But if I can’t, I’m just saying cup drainers. People that are sucking the life out of me, even though I am a counselor and I do help people. There are times where there are people that are latching on to me and looking to me instead of God to fulfill every desire they have. So another cup drainer could be somebody who is overemphasizing my ability to meet all their needs on a regular basis. I’m not saying, you know, if you come in for counseling, I’m not going to say, oh, I got my own needs. I don’t need you here.
Alan [00:06:27] Other cup drainers are just being exhausted. In other words, working so hard. Morning, noon, and night on a project. And then I’m just drained and without resting. And for me, I usually go hard at a project and then need some rest. So for me, we’ll talk about this in a minute. Cup fillers, things for me or golf are getting out in taking a walk in the mountain preserve might be playing racquetball or a sport doing something that’s fun for me, which racquetball and golf are fun things for me that they tend to fill my cup.
Alan [00:07:14] So let’s talk about that. What are things that fill your cup to overflowing? Another thing for me that is just taking one or two nights away from my normal circumstance, away from my house, getting away from your normal routine can be a cup filler for you. For some people, it’s reading. For some people, it’s doing something like painting or, you know, it could be very static or it could be very active.
Alan [00:07:48] Depends on the kind of person you are and your personality. The introverts tend to want to stay away from people. They extroverts want a bunch of social time. And during the past COVID environment that we’ve had for some people that are socialites, keeping away from parties and having coffee out with your friends, you know, the restaurants being closed, the social environments church. I think many of us have found that our gatherings that we used to have, we took for granted. And when you’re sequestered for three to five months, especially if you have preexisting conditions or things that would make you a candidate to get COVID, you’ve been sequestered. And the introverts love it. They they’re just glad. Oh, boy, I can read my book. I can just be inside for the extroverts. They’re just cringing because they want socialization. They want to be able to talk to people and interact. And that’s a very common thing.
Alan [00:08:57] So other cup fillers. So could be an activity, could be going to a place like a lake, a pond river, could be fishing, could be, you know, all kinds of activities, depending on who you are and what you like. So a cup filler also maybe being with somebody who’s an extrovert and you’re an introvert and they’re helping you just come out of yourself. Being with people who love a man except you, that can be a cup filler. So we have a soul. We have our mind, will, and emotions. And one of the things that we know we have a full cup is when we are mindful of the Lord and what His will is for us. And as I’ve said many times, you know, we know one thing that is God’s will is that we give thanks in everything. And James talks about rejoice when you encounter various trials, the testing of your faith produces endurance, endurance, hope, and hope doesn’t disappoint us.
Alan [00:10:07] So being mindful of the Lord. Being aware of his presence, being aware He is our rock. He is our fortress, in whom shall we be afraid? He is our defender. When we have a picture of who God is, who He really is, not maybe our false picture of Him. We’re mindful of Him and it gives us great confidence and joy. We read His word. Are we being obedient to His word by His spirit? John, 15 talks about abide in me and I and you and you will bear much fruit and your fruit will remain. And we’ve talked in the past about what is fruit. The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. We could do a whole hour on the fruit of the spirit. But if you don’t see those things in your life, then maybe you need to ask God. Fill me with your spirit. Help me get back the joy of my salvation. And be obedient to his word. Because when you’re obedient, you’re functioning according to the way God made you. And there’s gonna be joy as a result.
Alan [00:11:31] And then spending meaningful time with the Lord. You know, I was talking with somebody other day and they were saying they’re going through their yearly Bible, you know, app and checking off the boxes and they’re really proud of themselves. And I said it so. So are you finding freedom in this issue that you keep having over and over again, this sin or this addiction? And they’re going? Well, no, but I’m at least I’m reading my Bible every day. And I think, as we’ve said many times that, you know, reading the Bible is for transformation, not just information. We are to be transformed by the renewing of our mind. And so spending meaningful time. How do you get meaningful time? And for some of us, we need to take some time and take 15, 20, an hour.
Alan [00:12:26] Maybe we need to set aside two or three hours on a weekend or in the evening or whatever your best time is, and just have your Bible and a notepad or maybe your computer. But sometimes that gets distracting. But and just sit and say, Lord, speak to me. Lord, I want this time to be meaningful. I want it to be a two-way conversation and not just me talking. And then lastly, our emotions are under control of the spirit.
Alan [00:13:04] The other day, Pauly and I were in the car and she did something. I got upset and I let out something that I shouldn’t. And it’s offensive to her. And it wasn’t. It was sort of like a little kid reacting because what I thought should happen wasn’t happening and it was wrong. And I needed to be able to get with her and talk. And we worked it out. But my emotions were not under control. And when you get angry and outwardly, you know, sometimes curse or maybe punch a hole in a wall or something, you know, your way out of bounds. You are emotionally not under the control of the spirit of God. And Galatians tells us, if you walked by the spirit, if you are filled with his spirit, you’re not going to carry out the desires of the flesh. And the flesh is the opposite of love. The flesh is the opposite of joy. It’s criticism. It’s bitterness. The opposite. Just read the fruit of the spirit. And then later on in that Galatians five chapter. It gives you what are the fruit of the non spirit or the flesh, which is anger, wrath, a piece of speech.
Alan [00:14:31] I mean, we may be, you know, don’t murder people, but with our words, we sometimes do. And so a full cup is represented by being mindful of the Lord, obedient to his word, spending meaningful time with him, where we see the fruit of the spirit in our emotions under control, Galatians five, 22 and 23 say. But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, he will produce this kind of fruit. Love, joy, peace, patients’, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
Alan [00:15:08] I just want to tell you, there are many helps on our Web site: walkandtalk.org. And I’d really recommend you check it out. And if you like the podcast and the things that you’re hearing, please like us. That’s the only way other people will hear and also share with a friend. If you feel like this message or other messages that we’ve given are helpful to you.
Alan [00:15:38] So we’re talking about contentment and how do we get it? One of the ways we have to do this is by taking care of ourselves. It’s like the airplane, when they when we used to fly, it says, put your air mask on first. Put your yours on first before you put your child’s on. Why? Because if you are not alive, it’s gonna be pretty hard for your child to be breathing. So take care of yourself and save for some of us we think that that’s selfish. But I think the only way that you can minister to people and give out to people is if you have something coming in. If you are filled up with God’s spirit, His word, and also just things that are just enjoyable. You know, Philippians talks about whatever is true. Whatever is right. What is lovely, whatever is worthy of praise. Think about these things.
Alan [00:16:39] One of the ways to get contentment is to remember the things that God has done for you, not keep looking at all of the things that he hasn’t done. So put your air mask on first, get your time with the word time, and with the Lord first before you start helping other people. Somebody said, you know, I talk to God about people before I talk to people about God. One of the greatest books, I think that is helpful in just the general overall Christian life is the Purpose-driven Life. It’s meant to be gone through in 40 days. Rick Warren did a great job of expressing biblically what the Christian life is all about. If you’ve never read that book, I’d encourage you to do that.
Alan [00:17:26] We have a thing called Triple R weekend that’s meant for couples to be able to recharge their marriages with recreation, romance, and renewal. And you can get one of those at our Web site and have a great weekend with a purpose. Usually, we take at least two nights away. We make sure when the kids were small that they got taken care of by sitters. They loved it and we loved being away from them for a little while. And I guarantee you they will not die. They’ll actually be excited when you go away because you’re nicer people when you come back. Taking a vacation. For some people, they just don’t feel like they can take a vacation. They don’t believe it’s you know, they can’t afford to take a vacation. And what I would say is you can’t afford not to put those vacations. In other words, a week and put your phone away or the business part of life away so that you can recreate life in you.
Alan [00:18:30] Taking a sabbatical every seven years. And the Old Testament, they used to lay the green, the ground would be fallow so that the soil could be revived. And for some of us, we need to actually take, if we can, a month or two or three, at least once every seven years where we take an extended time away, especially us in ministry. Caregivers tend to take care of everybody else, but not take care of themselves. And we need to do that.
Alan [00:19:05] The three things when I was dealing with my depression, exercise, diet, and sleep, those three things getting exercise and you don’t have to be at a gym. You could just take a walk, but make sure it’s for 20 or 30 minutes. And diet. Just make sure your sugar intake, your caffeine intake, you’re not eating for comfort, but you’re eating because it’s good for you. Vegetables and fewer starches and all that sort of thing. There’s, you know, the Daniel way is not a diet. It’s a lifestyle. There are other great books on how to make a lifestyle of eating right and then sleep, just making sure I get more than three to five hours of sleep if I possibly can.
Alan [00:19:53] And then the last thing is to take care of yourself. You need to schedule it. And I would say schedule, you know, months in advance. And even if you move the date, at least you’ve scheduled time for yourself. Maybe. Time just for you to get away alone or time for you as a couple, or if you have roommates, maybe you just need, you know, a day with each other just to repair a relationship that may have started to get difficult. So what is the Bible say about contentment? Matthew, 6:31-33 in the J.B. Phillips’, New Testament says, so don’t worry and don’t keep saying what shall we eat, what shall we drink or what shall we wear? That is what the pagans are always looking for. Your Heavenly Father knows that you need them all. Set your heart on the kingdom and his goodness and all these things will come to you as a matter of course.
Alan [00:20:55] So keeping our mind on him and reading the scripture that talks about him first, Timothy 6:6-12 says, But godliness with contentment is a great gain for we brought nothing into the world and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing with these, we will be content, not boats and other houses. And not that those things are bad. But that’s not where life is. Godliness with contentment is great gain. And finally and he has said to me in Second Corinthians 12:9-10, my grace is sufficient for you. My power is perfected in weakness. Therefore, Paul said, I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties. For Christ’s sake, for when I am weak, then I’m strong. It doesn’t seem to be the American way. And actually, I have one more scripture. And this is the capstone. Matthew, 11:28-30 in the message translation, are you tired, are you worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me, get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I will show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me. Watch how I do it. Jesus said. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitted on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.
Alan [00:22:39] Wouldn’t that be great? That’s contentment. This is Alan Heller, and we’re trying to help everybody walk their talk. In Jesus’s name. God bless you.