The Gospel Coalition Australia


​Contentment (8) Getting practical

We’ve come a long way. We started by asking about the secret of contentment; and we’ve discovered that it isn’t a technique: it’s a Person. Jesus is the one unfailing source of satisfaction, security and significance. He is the only one who can make us content.

That’s all very well, but it’s pretty theoretical. How does it help me when I struggle with the temptation to be discontent? What practical steps can I take? I’m not sneaking techniques in the back door when I ask these questions. I’m asking how to put into practice the call to find contentment in Jesus alone.

Hold up your hand. Five fingers, right? Here are five steps we can take next time we notice ourselves becoming discontent, one for each finger to help us remember them easily:

Stop. Think. Turn from. Turn to. Turn out.

1. Stop. As soon as we notice signs of discontent in our lives, it’s time to stop and take stock. Here are some signs of discontent I notice in my own life:

I’m sure you’re familiar with many of these. You might like to come up with your own list.

2. Think. When we notice these signs, it’s time to ask ourselves some hard questions. For example:

Questions like these can help us to figure out the idols we look to for contentment.

3. Turn from. Usually, when we’re discontent, we try to fix it by doing something that makes us feel better. Or we ignore it and get on with our day. But God calls us to grieve for and turn from our idolatry. Here are two ways to do that:

4. Turn to. There’s not much point in emptying if we don’t fill. So let’s not only the things we look to for contentment, but also God and seek contentment in and from him. Here are three ways to do that:

and thank God for each one.

5. Turn out. Contentment isn’t just achieved through self-reflection and self-discipline. The way to become content isn’t to think about ourselves more; it’s to think about ourselves less.

Contentment is a decision. It’s active. It’s choosing to seek our joy in Jesus and his kingdom. God promises that, as we do that, we’ll find true contentment in him (Matt 16:25).

I’ve made plenty of suggestions, but please don’t feel like you have to do them all. You might like to start by making one small change from the list above. As you do that, ask God to help you. He’s the one who changes our hearts.

Now I want to shake it up a little. In my next post, instead of thinking about , I want to think about . Didn’t know there was such a thing? I look forward to reflecting on it with you.

1. Which of the above steps sounds the least familiar or the most helpful to you? Think about one way you could put it into practice this week, and start today. Ask God to help you.

2. Over the next 5 weeks, you might like to take one step at a time and concentrate on it for a week. Remember that one small change is more manageable than 50 big ones.


Jean Williams is the part-time woman’s worker at her local church, supports her husband in university ministry, and looks after four kids and a rambling house in the northern suburbs of Melbourne. Her job suits her perfectly because it involves two of her favourite activities: chatting about life and Jesus, and teaching the Bible to women. Her great joys include walking, staring at trees, musing about life, writing in her journal, reading books, and sipping a spiced chai (she can do up to three of these simultaneously). Not so long ago, she fulfilled a 15-year dream when she helped to start Entrust Women conference. An impossibly long time before that, she did a PhD on the Puritan experience of enjoyment of God. You can read more of what she writes at and her own blog, "in all honesty".

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