Steven Furtick - How To Remain Open To Growth
But contentment is how you grow. Acceptance is the first step to change. But I was never aware of that. And even just how I said it, I could tell it was probably a lot just to come out and say it. And it's one thing to write that down, but we're mostly taught to change by hating things. You got to hate it so bad. You got to hate that you've gained weight and then you lose it. You've got to hate that you have this bad habit and then you break it. And that's one side of it.
As long as you're willing to tolerate something, you probably won't change it, so I get that. But if you skip past acceptance, like if you go and pay a therapist $300 an hour one day, I don't know if you will do that or have done it, it could be great. But one thing that they'll do over and over is they'll try to bring you into acceptance, which is exactly what Christ does. And so there's not really a human way to do that. And I think that's probably the Christmas story really, is the word became flesh. It's not about, "Oh, how cute, a baby," and he's also God and very heartwarming. It's more about God is comfortable with humanity and he likes humanity and he became human, and he made that from the dust. And it's bringing us back to remember that the striving and all of that to get better and improve, that's not in an effort to get more of God's love.
The more you get and let God's love in, like, "Oh, I'm fine how I am, I'm fine where I am, I'm fine who I am," the more you get that in, then the other stuff, it falls away better. It sticks to you if you always think, "I need to be somebody else, I need to accomplish something more". So I always thought it was a balance, "Well, be content, but don't get complacent," but now I think that the more content you are with where you are right now, then you're actually able to grow because you're open to the things God gives you to grow. If you're not content with who you are, you'll be insecure. And so whatever God is sending your way, you'll be too anxious to do it or receive it or whatever.
So it's usually the people that are already the most content that are the most open to growth because they're not so distracted by what their life could be, they're living in what their life really is, which is how you grow. Is that too woo-woo of an answer? I really believe that if we could get people to see acceptance as the basis of change or the foundation of change, it'll keep you from having all of your twenties like hating yourself because you are neurotic about this or you annoy yourself or you sick of your own personality. And maybe you don't struggle with those things. Judging from your bios, you all really like yourselves.
I'm kidding. I'm kidding. I loved your bios. But no, it's just like acceptance and change aren't opposite. And so if there's something in your life where you say, "I want to be more like Christ. I want to be more spiritually mature. I want to accomplish something. I want to do something hard," then the first step to doing that is accepting that more of that won't make you more. Like you got to believe you're valuable because God made you. That's where the contentment comes from. And then anything that you're striving for, aiming for or going for, it's not the core of who you are.
So if one of those things fails, it doesn't kill you as a person because you're not rooted in that. Does that help you? Because even like you said, With You, I think you're referring to kind of how it's like a, "I just want to sit here with you forever, Lord". And it's like, well, that's great, but also, on the other hand, we've got to go move mountains and stuff too, right? But there's a time for everything, there's a season for everything. Like for me, I find if I don't have those moments with God in his presence where he's enough for me and I'm able to breathe in his presence and not have to do something, if I don't have those moments, I won't have any strength for the task, the assignment as a dad, as a husband, as a pastor, as a person.
So I think they work hand-in-hand. The good Bible story about it is Mary and Martha, because Martha is running around and she's like, "Hey, tell Mary..". She's telling Jesus to tell her sister what to do, which is like the ultimate manipulation. Manipulation is telling others what to do, but when you're telling God what he should do with others, we think we're all the time trying to decide how others should live their life. So she's doing a little bit of that. And Mary's at Jesus' feet and it's annoying because there's work to be done. And I always thought that when Jesus said she has chosen the better part and it will not be taken away from her, that, "You have many distractions, Martha, but one thing is necessary,"
I didn't think he meant only one thing is ever necessary like he didn't want to eat that night because she was trying to cook him dinner. But what he was saying I think is like one thing is only necessary at a time. And the more focused on that one thing you are in that moment, the rest will flow better. So hopefully you can glean a little from that.
I haven't found the magic secret of it because I do it too. I'm very driven for whatever reasons, and I have to remind myself like, "Hey, you've done pretty good, man," but I won't ever feel that. And so you bring that out and show me 5,000 people that receive Christ. Well, while I'm doing ministry, it's hard to do it. So I don't ever feel that until you show it to me and you go like, "Hey, look. Look how God's using our..". If you take those moments and you tuck them in, they give you the strength for the more discouraging parts.