Find and Feed Your Holy Discontent!

I listened to Bill Hybels’ message from the 2005 Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit a few times in recent months (I have it on CD so I can listen to it while driving). The talk is related to his book, Holy Discontent, which I wrote about a couple years ago; it’s also included in my recent post, 15 Books That Have Shaped Me as a Leader.

I watched the message on DVD yesterday as we started a new monthly gathering for the Clearfield Cluster (a group of 12 pastors serving 20 United Methodist churches in the immediate area) called “Fourth Monday” (which I thought might help us remember when it is!). A few of us met for an extended lunch (11:30 to 1:00) and watched Hybels’ talk on “The Leader’s State of Mind” (i.e. Holy Discontent).

Hybels asks leaders, What can’t you stand?

In the talk, Hybels challenges leaders to know what “wrecks” them because it probably wrecks the heart of God, too. That’s our holy discontent. Hybels says we often try to avoid or medicate our discontent, but we should actually feed it. That is, if you’re wrecked by the plight of the poor, rather than avoiding the poor, spend more time with the poor. And if you don’t know what your holy discontent is, expose yourself to different things until you discover your holy discontent.

Hybels points out that not everything you feel bad about is your “personal assignment.” Many things should bother us, but there is one thing, above all others, that really wrecks us.

And when you find it, feed it. But also be careful. Hybels warns, “What wrecks you can also wreck you!” Hybels concluded his talk by challenging leaders to not let hope die. Hybels says:

You can’t let hope die. You’ve got to do self-leadership. Keep hope alive in you because people take their cue from you!

This idea of holy discontent reminds me of what our faculty mentor at Asbury talked about when we were narrowing down our dissertation topics. See What’s the Puzzle? and What’s the Puzzle? 2.0. I was also impacted a year ago this month, when Rev. Tom Berlin talked about the connection between passion and call.

As I reflect on what I can’t stand—my holy discontent—I can’t stand for followers of Jesus and churches to be apathetic, inactive, and mission-confused!

From the beginning of my Jesus-following, leadership journey, I have always viewed apathy as the number one enemy of God’s work in the world. Too many of us have lost our passion for God. We’ve not been faithful disciples of Jesus Christ. We have let apathy poison our souls. And it’s hurting God’s mission! If all of us Jesus followers were fully surrendered disciples of Jesus Christ, how God’s mission in the world would flourish!

Regarding your holy discontent, Hybels asks at the end of the message, “Are you risking enough for it?” and adds, “In what lifetime are you going to go all out?”

So, what can’t you stand?

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