Why you should be constantly dissatisfied

by | February 17, 2014

Gratitude can be deceiving.

To be more precise, counterfeits of it can arrest our progress by making us foolishly — and even sinfully — content with our lives and our circumstances.

The purest form of gratitude generates a profound and perpetual discontentment. The most grateful people are never satisfied.

Consider:

  • In the name of gratitude, should George Washington and his revolutionary-generation brothers and sisters have been satisfied with British rule?
  • In the name of gratitude, should Martin Luther King, Jr. have been content with the status quo in the South?
  • In the name of gratitude, should Steve Jobs have accepted existing computers and cell phones as the marvelous inventions that they are?

The moment you say “This is good enough,” about any aspect of your life or your contribution to the world is the moment you’ve crossed the line from honorable gratitude to despicable complacency.

In the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson wrote,

“…all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.”

This applies to much more than government, and it’s about much more than suffering evil. It’s also about accepting mediocrity.

Mankind are more disposed to tolerate boring jobs, which are far below their capabilities, while the benefits and security make them sufferable.

Mankind are more disposed to accept overweight and out-of-shape bodies and poor eating habits — and their long-term consequences — than to right themselves with healthy habits.

Suffering evil, tolerating injustice, accepting mediocrity in any form is the furthest thing from gratitude. It is apathy, cowardice, fear.

To be lived in its purest form, gratitude must be accompanied by a ceaseless striving for excellence, a godly urge to innovate endlessly. This divine discontentment transforms gratitude from a passive feeling into an active way of life.

Gratitude is thanking Father for all that you have, given to you by Him. But we truly show our gratitude in our restlessness to use all that He has given us for the greatest good.

In Christ’s parable of the talents, who was more grateful: the man who buried his one talent, or the one who, in his righteous discontentment, turned his five into ten?

And remember this: Contented complacency causes us to bury far more talents than does paralyzing fear.

Always should our hearts be bursting with gratitude for what we have. Never should we be satisfied with what we’ve done with what we have.

I’m profoundly grateful to Father for my talent to write. And I’m never completely satisfied with anything I write. I’m constantly striving to improve, to learn how to impact more lives.

What if Henry Ford’s gratitude for horses and buggies had degenerated into mere contentment? What if Orville and Wilbur Wright had been apathetically satisfied with Henry Ford’s cars? What if Thomas Edison had been so grateful for candles that he never tried to improve on them?

Jefferson’s phrase in the Declaration of Independence continues:

“But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

Comfortable apathy — the malignant counterfeit of gratitude — is self-imposed despotism. We should be far more watchful of and eager to throw off the chains of personal complacency than the chains of political tyranny.

When we’re filled with true gratitude, we never suffer a long train of self-inflicted abuses to stifle our divine urge to create, to build, to innovate, to progress. Mediocrity is the surest sign of gross ingratitude.

Demonstrate your gratitude to Father by your holy discontentment.

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