holy discontent

By Bill Hybels

Moses

“I’ve come to refer to the powerful, spiritual congruence that connected Moses’ priorities to the priorities of God as his “holy discontent,” and it’s a concept that works in our modern world as well.  Still today, what wrecks the heart of someone who loves God is often the very thing God want to use to fire them up to do something that, under normal circumstances, they would never attempt to do….And it all starts with finding your holy discontent; it begins with you determining what it is that you can’t stand” (p. 25).

Mother Teresa

“For twenty years prior to her work as a world-renowned friend to the friendless, though, the young woman born Agnes Gonzha Bojaxhiu was just an average geography teacher who worked in Calcutta.  This is where her Popeye moment [the point where we ‘cant’s stands it no more”] comes in.  Each morning, she’d make her way to St. Mary’s High School to inspire young minds, but all around the school, conditions were anything but inspiring.  Life on the streets was deplorable!  Her route to work took her right by men and women who were homeless, destitute, and incapacitated by disease.  Every day, something in her spirit would cry out, ‘That’s all I can stand!  I just can’t stand this anymore!’  Ultimately, though, the gut-wrenching poverty that assaulted her senses and wrecked her soul day in and day out thrust her into solution mode” (p. 35).

Paul

“We were all created to do good works [Ephesians 2:10].  I was created to do good works.  Just as confidently, I’m here to tell you that you were created to do good works, which explains how I know that you have a holy discontent banging around in your brain somewhere — if you’re alive and kicking today, then a specific work that that you are expected to do” (p. 51).

“The danger in opting out of the holy discontent pursuit is that in doing so, you also opt out of tackling the good works God has wired you to accomplish.  The goal, friends, is to cultivate your soul’s soil so that this doing-of-good-works process can unfold in your life….There is no greater satisfaction this side of heaven!” (p. 51).

Fundamental State of Leadership

“About the time I was fleshing out my thoughts around the holy discontent concept, I came across a book written by University of Michigan business school professor Robert Quinn.  It contained a theory that really resonated with me — something he called the “fundamental state” theory.  Essentially, it says that when a person is gripped by a powerful passion (or driven by holy discontent, you might say), he or she literally enters into a completely different state of mind; in fact, they shift mental gears altogether and begin operating on an entirely new level” (p. 117).

“According to Quinn, people can actually migrate at will from what he calls the “normal state” to a place known as the “fundamental state.”  This is helpful to know, especially since you may be stuck in the “normal state” without even knowing it.  Here’s how to tell: in the normal state, you’re almost entirely self-absorbed.  You have a reactive approach to life.  And you try to maintain the status quo, regardless how unbearable the status quo is.  Professor Quinn puts it this way in his book, Building the Bridge as You Walk Across It:

‘When we accept the world as it is [by living in the normal state], we deny our ability to see something better, and hence our ability to be something better.  We become what we behold.’  Accepting the world as it is.  Denying our ability to see something better.  Denying our ability to be something better.  This is life in the normal state.  What’s not normal, Professor Quinn says, is embracing the fact that another state exists” (pp. 117, 118).