“Holy Discontent”

I just finished reading another book by Bill Hybels, Holy Discontent. Last week I finished When Leadership and Discipleship Collide, which I wrote about here. I wanted to include both books in my dissertation, at the last minute.

As I said before, Hybels is one of my favorite writers/leaders. Not only is Holy Discontent an excellent book, but I strongly consider it worthwhile reading for every Christ-follower (especially every Christ-following leader) who wants to make a difference in the world!

This book, Hybels states, began with the question, “Why do people do what they do?” (13).

Hybels reflected on this question for a couple years, then concludes …

I believe the motivating reason why millions of people choose to do good in the world around them is because there is something wrong in that world. In fact, there is something so wrong that they just can’t stand it (23).

That’s what Hybels refers to as “holy discontent.” Hybels writes, “Once that frustration and anger is understood as being your holy discontent … it’s as if an enormous wave of positive energy gets released inside you” (26).

Hybels shares the stories of some people who were driven by holy discontent, including, Mother Teresa, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Bob Pierce, among others.

All of this leads Hybels to ask: “What can’t you stand?” (34).

I hope this question grabs your heart, as it has mine, and that it won’t let you go until you’re able to answer it, because we must change the world around us!

Hybels argues that there’s “a danger in opting out of your holy discontent pursuit” (51). He writes that in opting out, “you also opt out of tackling the good works God has wired you up to accomplish” (51).

This is a matter of growth and maturity. Hybels asserts …

… over time, Christ-followers should in fact begin to look less like themselves and more like Christ. Therefore, on an ever-increasing basis, Christ-followers should be abandoning their self-seeking viewpoints and taking on an heaven’s perspective. They should be loosening the grip on self-centeredness and instead be looking for ways to serve others (52).

Hybels encourages readers to constantly “be on the lookout for that one cause or purpose or problem that grabs you by the throat and just won’t let go” (53).

In Holy Discontent, Hybels suggests feeding your frustration (i.e. don’t isolate yourself from your holy discontent): “the best thing you can do,” Hybels writes, “is move toward your area of holy discontent until you have clear direction from God as to what action you should take to resolve it” (67-68).

If we don’t feed our holy discontent, Hybels warns …

The fuel will dry up. The firestorm will fizzle out. No matter how amped up we are about something that wrecks us, time and repetition take a toll … Determine now that you will never insulate yourself from what wrecks you. Instead, increase your exposure … and then hang onto your hat, because real living is going to rock your world when you begin to share space with your holy discontent! (74)

Hybels also talks about “magnetic living.”

“If you are full of darkness and despair,” Hybels contends, “then the only type of ‘magnetic living’ you will be doing is the kind that sucks people into your black hole of despondency” (126).

If you still believe that with God all things really are possible, you owe it to yourself and to the people in your sphere of influence to determine each and every day to keep your level of faith-based optimism high. In other words, you simply cannot allow what ‘wrecks’ you to wreck you (132-133).

And that, according to Hybels, is an area of self-leadership. “… only you can keep your hope meter high” (133). Further, “This area of self-leadership, Hybels states, “is absolutely critical because everyone you lead … takes their cue from you” (134-135).

Holy Discontent is making an impact on me. It’s also going to impact the opening section of my dissertation which lays out my “holy discontent.” As I wrap up my defense draft in the next week (mostly technical revisions, at this point), and as I prepare to continue advancing God’s kingdom in my part of the world, I need to wrestle with the question (which will probably someday be the topic of another post) …

What can’t I stand?

Hybels writes …

I assure you there is a holy discontent with your name on it. There is something out there that God is waiting for you to grab on to so that he can use you to help solve it. It wrecks you, it wrecks him, and he is ready for you both to do something about it (54).

In the context of talking about David’s stirring against Goliath, Hybels offered the following prayer, which is a good prayer for us to pray, as well …

What you care about, God, is what I want to care about too. What stirs your spirit, God, stirs my spirit too. And however you want to use me to help solve the problem that we both see … I’m in (70).

I’m in. Are you?

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