Finding my “Holy Discontent” part I

Inspired by this post by Matthew Bennett and this book by Bill Hybels.

A couple of years ago, I was stuck. I woke up one morning and realised that there wasn’t really anything in my life that was inspiring me to get out of bed that day. Sure, I had a career and my own business but, at that point, my progress was slowing and the business was limping badly. Worse still, whereas I had previously had the energy and drive to jump out of bed and pounce on any opportunity (or create my own), at that particular point in time, I was on the verge of giving up.

Almost a week after this kicked off, I distinctly remember hearing my wife go out to work. A few minutes later, I sat up in bed and began staring into space. There was nothing, absolutely nothing that I was even remotely interested in doing. It seemed that nothing I was doing was working anyway, so why bother trying?

I didn’t know what else to do, so I prayed. Now, if this was a Christian fiction book, an angel would appear, looking a bit like a cross between a young Cliff Richard and Jason Donovan, and would tell me to march forth into victory. He would spout forth some thees and thys and I would be sorted.

That didn’t happen. I prayed for a couple of minutes and felt pretty much nothing. Well nothing that is, except for a vague desire to read a book that had been sitting on our bookshelves for a month or so. That book was called “Holy Discontent” and was written by a guy called Bill Hybels.

The basic thesis of the book is that everyone carries a God-given desire to make a difference somewhere. He likens it to the old cartoons, where Popeye would see something going on and would get to the stage where he would cry out “I’ve had all I can stands and I can’t stands no more.” This would prompt him to find the nearest can of spinach, down it and go pound some Pluto posterior.

Bill Hybels write that, for us to live our lives to the full, we need to find our Holy Discontent, that thing that motivates us to get up and give out all. In fact, he feels that until we are living out of that Holy Discontent, we will feel that there is something missing. Our lives will feel purposeless and boring. Worse, we will never be the people God created us to be.

Since I am a born-again Christian, this book really spoke to me. The truth was that I wasn’t living out of moderate excitement, never mind spinach-fuelled, purpose-driven, world-changing passion. Truth be told, if passion was a raging fire, I was living on a dribbly candle with a wet wick.

So I prayed some more. For a Christian, it makes sense to go back to your Maker when you want to know what you were built for. And this time, I knew I heard something, which I set about writing down. I am not going to tell you all about that yet. What I will do is leave you with some of the kinds of questions I was thinking about:

1) What do I see in the world today that I wish someone would change?

2) Out of everything I wrote above, which one or two things stand out most to me?

3) If money were no object, what would I be doing with my time?

4) If I had million pounds and had to use it to further one cause, where would it go?

5) What stories/news/blog posts have I read or seen recently that got me angry or made me cry?

6) What do I enjoy doing with my time?

7) What activity or activities give me the most fulfillment?

More on this on Monday

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2 thoughts on “Finding my “Holy Discontent” part I

  1. Hi Jonathan, this is great: spotting people’s passion is now getting really easy!! To test myself, before I read your post, I checked out your about page and the YouTube video you recorded to see if I could guess what you can’t shut up about. Now, I’ve read your post, it’s even easier: your passion is your religion. You even have ‘preaching’ as one of your main site navigation options!

    God, Christianity, prayer, religion, belief, faith. Do it. Get posting. Use your languages to connect with more people.

    I didn’t include this bit in my posts, but I’ve done a lot of reading about religion and vocation over the past few months too. (Maybe I’ll do a fourth post). What we’re talking about is perhaps nothing more than your God-given vocation: You’re not Jesus, but then Jesus isn’t you.

    I realised this week talking to my students that when you identify someone’s passion like this, there is no answer to the question: “why is X his passion/vocation?”. It just is. No one really knows, and it doesn’t matter.

    If you’re interested—and I bet you would be after reading this—in what I read relating religion to vocation, check out how Luther and Calvin changed traditional attitudes to vocation, read Weber’s Protestant Work Ethic, Rothbard’s History of Economic Thought, and look at how closely the ideas of the founder of the Opus Dei, Escrivá de Balaguer, match the ideas of the Calvinists and Luther in terms of what each person can do in life, but from within the Catholic Church.

    Then write us some posts about what you find!

  2. Thanks for the ideas Matthew. I will need to take a look.
    At the moment, I am on a John Maxwell and Bill Hybels thing again, as well as reading lots of research stuff.

    Technically, my passions shouldn’t be obvious until next week but you have guessed most of them. I’d actually like to see what tools we can all find to help people discover their passion. Life really isn’t the same once you have found it.

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