Thomas Edison said, “Restlessness is discontent – and discontent is the first necessity of progress. Show me a thoroughly satisfied man – and I will show you a failure.”
The Apostle Paul said, “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.”
How do we reconcile these two truths? Are they both true? I believe both Edison and Paul are speaking truth to us. They are speaking to two sides of the same proverbial coin.
It is a simple matter of motivation versus measurement.
Edison is speaking to the positive side of motivational discontent. That drive that pushes us to invent a car seat or produce a Malaria vaccine. This intrinsic desire to create a better world comes deeply from being created in the image of God; the ultimate creator.
Paul, on the other hand, is speaking to the positive side of measuring our contentedness. So often we bypass our motivations and move directly into measuring everything in our lives that fails to make us happy.
As we look to decipher the discontent in our lives, we must separate the holy discontent which drives us to make the world a better place and those around us better people. We must drive away the unholy discontent that forces us to compare the outward circumstances in our lives breeding more unholy discontent.
I must feed my holy discontent, driving me to serve God in new ways.
I must starve my unholy discontent, freeing me from comparative, shallow living.