Contentment Is Not Complacency

For a variety of reasons, I feel like my life is at a crossroads right now and I have some decisions to make. But I don’t know yet what those changes should be. In the middle of uncertainty, it’s easy to become discontented, paralyzed and complacent. But that would be foolish!

Instead, in spite of the uncertainty, I’m seeking to be content in my circumstances. Yet at the same time I’m looking to the Lord to guide me into my next steps. Being complacent would get me nowhere but frustrated and would certainly damage my situation and perhaps that of those around me.

The writer of Hebrews urges us, “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’” (Hebrews 13:5)

Paul also wrote, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” (Philippians 4:11)

Some might think that contentment runs contrary to ambition and the desire to excel and achieve even more. But this not at all what is meant by contentment. Contentment and complacency share no common ground.

Contentment is being at peace with where God has us right now. Being content means that we’re in a state of trusting God to meet our needs and we enjoy a quiet relaxation knowing that He has everything under control. When we’re content, we’re thankful to God and acknowledge His sovereign and gracious provision for all things.

But contentment is not complacency. Complacency is failure to act when we should. Complacency means we accept the status quo in spite of the fact that we know God wants us to do something about it.

Complacency represents the kind of faux-faith that James describes. It’s a faith lacking substance. A faith with no action is no faith. “Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” (James 2:17)

Instead, Paul urges, “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.” (1 Corinthians 16:13 ESV) And, “Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14)

Perhaps you find yourself in midst of change as well. Let’s demonstrate our trust in God through contentment and reject complacency as faithlessness and disobedience.

©2017 Rob Fischer

Able and Willing!

We use the idiom “Able and willing!” to express our capacity and readiness to serve others. We could be able, yet unwilling to help others. Or, we could be willing, yet unable to follow through with what we wish we could do. No, both the ability and the willingness must be present.

But the writer of Hebrews challenges us on this issue from an entirely different perspective. In fact, Hebrews 11:6 defines faith as the assurance that God is both able and willing. “Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6 NIV)

This faith that God is both able and willing is vital! If we come to Him with a request and believe that He is potentially able, but we doubt that He’s willing to help us, what does that say about our understanding of who God is? And what does this reveal about our relationship with Him? It would be just as bad to think that He is willing, yet unable to meet our needs.

“Anyone who comes to [God] must believe that He exists.” This statement does not merely refer to belief that there is a God. The writer is talking about the belief or conviction that God exists in all His fullness, power, and presence. God is the Sovereign Creator and Sustainer of the universe.

Therefore, God is able! This has to do with His very nature. Nothing is out of the realm of possibility for Him. He is all-powerful, all-present, all-knowing, all-wise. Jesus said, “With God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26 NIV)

Granted, God is able, but is He willing? He can help me, but does He want to? Here’s where many of us struggle. Hebrews 11:6 also applies this factor as integral to our faith. We must believe not only that He exists, we must trust “that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.” God’s willingness to help us has to do with His character.

We stumble falsely in this aspect of faith. We falsely assume that God isn’t pleased with us—that we are unworthy of His pleasure. But earlier in Hebrews we find a remarkable passage, “Jesus is not ashamed to call us brothers and sisters.” (Hebrews 2:11) He is not ashamed of you, He loves you! If you have come to Jesus Christ for salvation, you are His child.

“He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all—how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32 NIV) Therefore, God’s character is at stake here.

Our faith does not hinge on us, but on God who is willing and able. We falsely assume that we must muster great faith in order to move God. That’s backwards. All we need is a tiny seed of faith in our Great God. Such faith pleases Him. He says so.

Come to God believing that He is able and trusting that He is willing.

©2013 Rob Fischer

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Improving Relationship Management

In prior posts we began investigating emotional intelligence in leaders. We noted that emotional intelligence seems to impact the performance of an organization more than any other characteristic of the leader. Therefore, leaders who want to lead well seek to improve their emotional intelligence quotient.

Daniel Goleman describes emotional intelligence in terms of four major competencies: Self-awareness, Self-management, Social Awareness, and Relationship Management. In this post we’ll look at strategies for improving our relationship management.

Goleman suggests that relationship management involves actively seeking to cultivate healthy relationships with those around us through clear communication, trust, conflict resolution, warmth, kindness, and appropriate humor.[i] Let’s walk through Goleman’s definition of relationship management.

The overarching theme in relationship management is that we’re actively seeking to cultivate healthy relationships with others. Many years ago, my wife and I had been transferred to Texas by the company I worked for. For some reason, we were finding the transition more difficult than we had expected and building new relationships was one of our chief challenges.

During a particularly low time in our adjustment, we were on our way to go camping as a family. My wife and I had just been grousing in the car about how hard it was to connect with people. We arrived at our campsite and set up the tent trailer. As soon as the setup chores were complete, our eight-year-old son cheerfully announced to us, “Well, I’m going to go make a new friend!” And then he scampered off to the next campsite where he had spied another boy about his age.

My wife and I looked at each other and were smitten in our consciences! We realized that we were expecting a lot from others, but we hadn’t really applied ourselves to actively seek out and cultivate new relationships. That was a turning point for us in the nearly six years we spent in Texas. After this incident, we resolved to do so and were able to develop some wonderful relationships with a number of couples and single adults.

Going back to Goleman’s definition of relationship management, we recognize that we’re not merely looking for relationships, but we’re actively seeking and cultivating healthy ones. Healthy relationships are characterized by the other elements: clear communication, trust, conflict resolution, warmth, kindness, and appropriate humor.

What strikes me about these characteristics of healthy relationships is that they are others-centered. I love the simplicity of Proverbs 17:17, “A friend loves at all times.” The word friend clearly captures the essence of a healthy relationship even though we may not consider some of our business associates or acquaintances friends.

When we actively cultivate healthy relationships we will communicate with others clearly. This requires more listening than talking. And clear communication comes without pretense or deceit.

We also want to be trustworthy and seek to trust others—to do what’s right, to keep confidences, and to protect. Trust is like a savings account into which we want to continually make deposits, but avoid making withdrawals.

We resolve conflicts between each other, because we recognize that our relationship is more important than whatever else might come between us. In resolving conflict we forgive, because we know God has forgiven us and that we too are in need of being forgiven by others.

Expressing warmth, kindness, and appropriate humor makes deposits in our “trust” account with others and demonstrates that we value them and enjoy being with them.

Perhaps there’s someone in your life that is difficult to get along with. Jesus challenges us, “Love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:44-45 NLT) God loves us and He wants us to be like him and demonstrate his love toward others.

In the next and final article for this series on emotional intelligence, we’ll wrap up all four competencies and leave you with a challenge!

©2013 Rob Fischer



[i] Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis, and Annie McKee, Primal Leadership: the Hidden Drive of Great Performance. Harvard Business Review, December, 2001.

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Leaders and Emotional Intelligence

“What makes a leader?” That was the question that Daniel Goleman set out to discover when he researched nearly 200 large, global companies. In addition to the qualities we normally ascribe to successful leaders, Goleman found that truly effective leaders exhibit what he calls emotional intelligence. “He found direct ties between emotional intelligence and measurable business results.”[i] He also determined that emotional intelligence proved to be a more significant factor of performance than any other quality a leader might possess.

Goleman describes emotional intelligence in terms of four major competencies: Self-awareness, Self-management, Social Awareness, and Relationship Management.

Self-awareness – This speaks to our ability to honestly assess our own capabilities; read our own emotions; and recognize how we are impacting others around us.

Self-management – This is the application of what we know through self-awareness. Knowing how we impact others through our moods, words and actions, we take control of those so that they work for us rather than against us.

Social awareness – We accurately read others’ emotions and demonstrate that we care by expressing empathy and sensitivity when interacting with them. We are also cognizant of the social atmosphere around us and adjust to influence others positively.

Relationship management – We actively seek to cultivate healthy relationships with those around us through clear communication, trust, conflict resolution, warmth, kindness, and appropriate humor.[ii]

Can emotional intelligence be learned?
A key question that surfaces from this research is whether emotional intelligence can be learned. The answer is a resounding “Yes!” And improving one’s emotional intelligence requires desire to do so coupled with intentional, focused effort.

Also, the manner in which we gain emotional intelligence is not primarily cognitive. Instead, we learn emotional intelligence best relationally: through feedback from others, coaching, observing others model the competencies, and by practicing the competencies in a social context.

Another final observation about increasing our emotional intelligence quotient is in order. We tend to reduce these competencies merely to a set of learned behaviors. But ultimately what we do flows from who we are and who we’re becoming.

Superficial attention to emotional intelligence may produce different behaviors, but they will appear plastic and contrived to others. People will perceive our mismatched actions as hypocritical and manipulative, resulting in broken trust and damaged relationships.

King Solomon counseled, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”[iii] This business of emotional intelligence must begin with the core of who we are and what we believe about others. Our behaviors will flow from that.

In subsequent posts, I will provide tips on how we attend to who we are and how we can improve our emotional intelligence quotient.

©2013 Rob Fischer



[i] Daniel Goleman, What Makes a Leader? Harvard Business Review, January, 2004.

[ii] Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis, and Annie McKee, Primal Leadership: the Hidden Drive of Great Performance. Harvard Business Review, December, 2001.

[iii] Proverbs 4:23 NIV

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