Joshua Gagnon

thoughts on Jesus, leadership, and the Church.

Ep 172: Two More Paths that Lead to Discontentment

Welcome to the 172nd episode of the Joshua Gagnon Leadership Podcast!

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You can read the full transcription of this episode below.

Roman Archer: And we’re live. (laughs) I’m gonna start toying with some different openers.

Joshua Gagnon: Can you do the Will Ferrell?

R: Will Ferrell. I mean there’s so many. There’s the whole idea of...His was a sign off.

J: San Diego. Yeah.

R: Stay classy, San Diego. Which, you know, we’ll own it. This is a pretty for real. That’s one of my favorite movies.

J: Why couldn’t you say that?

R: I think some people might be offended by some of the movie.

J: Oh really. That’s too bad.

R: Yeah it is too bad.

J: I mean, I’m offended by you, too.

R: That’s fine. I offend people.

J: I wouldn’t watch a lot of the things you watch.

R: You wouldn’t do a lot of the things I do.

J: Matter of fact, how many times have you been like, hey, I watched that, I was like, dude, I wouldn’t.

R: You shut it off.

J: Yeah, I shut it off. Do you ever feel guilty? Truthfully, do you ever feel like...or do you just kind of live in that reality that it’s not a conviction for you?

R: Um, no, because I have a different aversion than you do. I think the things that bother you bother me different.

J: Yeah. I think that that’s good, by the way. I’ve always kind of said what I struggle with, what you struggle with are two different things and we don’t need to pretend that Christianity is wrapped up in one bubble.

R: Yeah. Just don’t tell that to the Christians.

J: Yeah. Just keep that quiet and pretend we don’t dance.

R: Yep. Exactly.

J: I don’t floss (laughs). Actually, this morning when I was in the kitchen.

R: Your son?

J: Nehemiah was teaching…

R: He can floss.

J: For real. But he was doing it with my wife and so he was showing her the casual floss this morning.

R: I haven’t seen it.

J: He kinda just lets his arms really loose.

R: Yeah, it’s kind of like the cool floss.

J: And he got into the habit where he was flossing all the time but like, but he would do it just standing in the living room and he would be just doing it. And we would be going to the store and someone’s like, “Hey! Oh Pastor Josh, hi! I’d love to meet you!” And I’d look and he’s flossing next to us. It just became this thing that he just did.

R: Like me chewing on pens. He would be flossing.

J: Yeah, it’s not like a nervous tick, but it would be just what he did. I was like, “Dude, we’ve got to work through this man. You can’t just be flossing all of the time, you know?” So anyways he was teaching Jen how to do that today.

R: The boys are doing football right now, too. That’s a perfect touchdown dance for you.

J: They practiced their touchdown dances, but they’re not allowed to do them. Cause if they do them, I’m the coach.

R: It’s unsportsmanlike, is it that?

J: Yeah, here’s the thing with the touchdown dance. Here’s the thing. I would never do one. Never. Never.

R: As you’re saying this, I’m processing. Cause you’re a basketball player by heart, and we played a lot of basketball. Well, we’ve played like 5 footballs, but mainly, competitively, it’s been basketball.

J: I’m pretty athletic… I can talk.

R: Okay, how’s that different then? Cause basketball doesn’t have a 3-point dance… You’ve done a 3-point dance, actually, so I’ve seen you…

J: Yeah, you know I can talk with the best of them out there, you know what I mean? I’d get it on. But I wouldn’t do a touchdown dance, and here’s why. I’m never going to celebrate something that I expected to do. You know what I mean? I would just scored a touchdown, put the football down, and run back.

R: What about in times in basketball?

J: Now if you’re the game winner, if you catch the game winner, you put your hands up and scream “Come on!” That’s great. But these dances where you’re bowling and people are falling over, it’s like listen, I want a football team and my players, they’re going to score touchdowns like this. It’s all business.

R: Stone-faced.

J: It’s business. We are business. How bad is that? If you’re playing a team when they score touchdowns, they just go and put their business suit back on? Like that’s when you’re like, woah.

R: I feel like it’s have celebrated on the basketball court, so I feel like this is a little bit like…

J: Celebration with your hands in the air saying, “Yes!”

R: You’ve done a little shimmy-shake. I’ve seen a shimmy-shake.

J: I might have a little floss.

R: So I guess the difference is, unless there’s a time out, usually game play continues, and so it has to be quick.

J: Yes. It’s in the game.

R: But there’s clearly some celebration.

J: Yeah, well, you’ll never know.

R: I don’t even know how we got on this. What were we talking about?

J: We were talking about discontentment.

R: Discontentment, yes.

J: Carrying on from last week’s episode.

R: Yes, we were talking about 3 things that cause or accelerate discontentment. I think we can pack these 2.

J: You have to listen to the first episode of discontentment. Honestly, like shut off right now. Just go listen to the first episode. I think you’ll catch right up to speed.

R: It’s worth it.

J: You know, why not? If you’re going to listen to this episode, go listen to the other one if you haven’t heard it.

R: Yep, especially in this season, as human beings, not just as ministry leaders, but as human beings we all struggle with this idea of discontentment. You identified 3 areas or 3 accelerants that cause discontentment.

J: Just things in my life. Comparison was the first one. Do I hear a doorbell on our offices?

R: Yeah, we installed a doorbell cause that front door locks.

J: Really?

R: Yeah, that way people can ring it without just walking through our offices

J: That’s cool.

R: Yeah, so if you ever come to the…

J: If I ever come to the offices I can ring it?

R: You can’t get in. Yeah. We changed the locks. Just ring the bell and Isha will let you in. Shoutout to Isha.

J: Cool. Good to know.

R: So the two that we’re talking about today would be hunger pains and I’m not going to reveal the third one until we get there.

J: Hunger pains.

R: Hunger pains causes discontentment.

J: Well we talked a lot about hunger pains causing discontentment. I’d like to hear your unpacking of that.

R: Hunger pain. I think it shows up in… I dropped my pen.

J: You don’t drop your pen, you’re eating it right now while you’re on a podcast.

R: Well, we were talking about flossing and…

J: You get anxious.

R: Yes. Hunger pains is essentially this idea that, just like when we’re hungry there’s this visceral response.

J: It would be funny if you said, “It’s this idea of when we’re hungry, we have pains. What is your take on it?”

R: Yeah, when you’re hungry, there’s this painful sensation. No, there’s this visceral reaction that we kind of have.

J: Visceral, you’re just throwing out these words. Good job.

R: I’ve used that before. There’s this reaction that we have and it will cause us, for instance one of the problems I have when I’m hungry is I’ll snack. And you’re always making fun of me on this. And so what I do is I find these little things that I’m trying to mask that hunger pain with. I think we often do that. We have these little tinges of hunger pains that are just underlying discontentment that we can’t get to the root of. Maybe it’s afraid of resting, of being still, of whatever, and it creates this discontent, cause when we’re alone in it that’s a very scary thing. And so we do these little things, hunger pains.

J: Yeah, hunger pains are the response to the discontentment in our life we haven’t yet fulfilled with rest or peace or contentment, ultimately. So for instance, we’ll go with a big one. I may be discontent in a relationship, right? Or someone may be discontent in their marriage. And that discontentment could lead to a hunger pain of wanting something new. So now they’re online and they’re looking at new, they’re maybe involved in pornography.

R: Right, so fantasizing.

J: So fantasizing. So now that hunger pain of discontent in my marriage all of a sudden now becomes this desire for pornography, this desire to fill that contentment, fill that contentment which becomes this affair, which becomes this nightmare, right? So the hunger pains are really the response to undealt with discontentment. You actually just had a hunger pain. Do you want to talk about the hunger pain Saturday?

R: Um, not quite sure I do. (laughs)

J: The bunny.

R: Yeah, so our family just got a bunny.

J: Now, we laughed about it because it was a hunger pain, you would agree, but however we’ve now tried to mature this idea of hunger pains to not all hunger pains are actually bad.

R: I would encourage any, this is specific to ministry leaders, don’t make any decisions in the ten days following a big weekend like Easter. Because I think, you know, we laugh but there’s that discontentment that keeps you…

J: Last week you wanted to buy a…

R & J: truck.

J: An old truck.

R: I had to talk to somebody on staff who texted me, they texted me from the Monday after Easter Sunday.

J: I’m getting a tattoo today and this is what it is.

R: Yeah.

J: You’re like…

R: That’s a terrible idea. Don’t. Leave now.

J: Abort mission.

R: Because there’s that adrenaline, there’s that high, and then you kind of come down and you realize that if you’re not okay with just being okay, and for me specifically, you can become obsessive over what’s new, what’s next. And so, yeah, our family went and we got a bunny.

J: Out of nowhere.

R: Yeah. Literally out of nowhere. We were running errands.

J: And we talked about that being a funny hunger pain. Cause I can see you waking up, like I feel like I need something, I need to do something and you went out and literally bought a bunny, right? Which we then said, not all hunger pains are bad, right? Not all hunger pains are bad. Matter of fact, some hunger pains simply just are okay. It’s being willing to, and understanding when you’re having a hunger pain, if you understand where it’s coming from, and then making the conscious decision to say, you know what, I do want to do this today. And I think if many of us pause before doing it, we would recognize the ones that are going to damage us. We can have a hunger pain in our life of feeling discontent, so the hunger pain is something new. So you go and quit your job with one day thought. You quit the ministry position. It’s like, what are you doing? Right? Well, I wanted something new. No, that was a hunger pain, you probably should have thought through a little bit more, prayed through a little bit more, made a better decision. What are some other hunger pains?

R: Well, I think for ministry leaders, it’s launching a location. It’s buying a new building. It’s making a new hire. It’s all of those decisions where we think for the progress of new, for the progress of growth, we just make those decisions. They tend to be, like you said, rash decisions. Where it’s like, in the moment, had we stepped back and had that margin of deciding is this a wise thing to do? What are the implications of this on the other side of the decision? Because in any season, no matter where we are, there’s always that idea of discontentment we’re going to deal with it. But if we’re not careful with some of these hunger pains, we get ourselves in situations that just fuel that even more and it becomes even more obsessive.

J: Yeah, it’s one thing about eating, it’s another thing about eating to the point of obesity. And we want to be careful that we’re not so discontent we’re becoming obese in our decisions.

R: Yeah. Absolutely. And so we’re aware of the hunger pains.

J: Aware of the hunger pains. Be aware of the hunger pains that are born out of your discontentment because they’re going to cause you to often make decisions that are contrary to what’s best for you. They’re just born out of trying to fulfill an empty void in your life that needs to be filled with contentment in Christ, I know that’s so easy. I mean Paul said it, right? I know what it’s like to live with nothing or with everything, with a full stomach, empty stomach, on and on and on, it’s like man, he’s chained to a guard 24 hours a day at the time and you’re thinking man, I want to know what that’s like.

R: Yep.

J: I want to know what that’s like. Solomon says, give me just two things: I never want to lie and I want to live with just enough so that I’m never too poor, or I steal and I’m never too rich and I don’t need You. But his idea was I want to have just enough. Just enough. It’s like, man I wish I was okay with just enough. But sometimes I don’t feel okay with just enough. Sometimes I’m not living in the security of my walk in Christ like Paul was, where I know what it’s like on both sides of this extreme and I’m okay. I’m not living in that place of peace or that Sabbath, you know? The Sabbath. Rest. And the reality is when I’m not living in there, those hunger pains become really loud and if I don’t recognize those hunger pains, I can start making those decisions that are going to pull me away from what’s best.

R: I think one of the important things to even mention here is having a safe place to navigate through some of those hunger pains. Having a friend or a group of friends that you get with and can help you kind of process, create that margin and step back, ask the right questions like hey, you’re needing something right now.

J: You think that Ferrari was a great decision?

R: Exactly. Like, what is it? What is it that you think that thing is going to give you or bring you, and is there something else that we need to address here? If you’re saying you need this, but what is it that you really need? And let’s make sure that they’re not hunger pains.

J: You think that you make 30,000 a year, that Lamborghini was really the best decision?

R: Not even quite sure how you got financing for that. Exactly. So there’s hunger pains. There’s comparing, there’s hunger pains, and then this next one is so critical. We all fall into this. But it accelerates this idea of discontentment. It’s the idea of entitlement. When we start feeling entitled, we become more discontentment over what we have because we feel entitled for what we don’t have.

J: Yeah, we want more. We feel entitled to more so we start to neglect the blessings that we have. Because we’re entitled to more, right? I’ve worked for it, I’ve earned it, I’ve prayed for it, I deserve it, my friend has it, my parents have it, you’re smiling.

R: I’m just…

J: You’re literally looking at me, shaking your head, smiling. I don’t know if I want to punch that or if I want to hug that or if you’re going to punch me, it’s almost a little creepy.

R: What you’re saying is so good and I was thinking of this illustration and then as I was thinking of the illustration I was thinking about how proud you would be, just because I haven’t told you it yet. Continue.

J: Then you’ll tell me after.

R: Yeah.

J: After the podcast.

R: Oh, I can tell you now. Cause it has to do with discontentment and just this idea of entitlement.

J: I’ll hear it now.

R: So I think outside of ministry, one of the areas that I’ve learned a ton from you on has just been parenting. You and Jen do a tremendous job with your boys, Malachi and Neo. One of the areas I think you’re just gifted in is that, and we’ve got 2 girls, love them to death.

J: I love them to death, too.

R: Me and Michelle constantly look up to you guys on how you parent. It was funny, this was the Saturday night before Easter, we were down at one of our locations, we were staying in a hotel, and we had, so our girls ate and, for our listeners, 2 queen beds. So I’m laying in bed, we’re getting ready, and they’re watching a movie in the other bed, and Ellie says she wants a snack, which is something we’ve talked about. So there’s this idea of just like discontentment, we had already had dinner, so we said, okay, you can have an orange. And so we give her an orange and, I kid you not, 10 seconds did not pass by from when I gave her an orange to her younger sister asking her, can I have some of that orange? And Ellie said, no. And this idea of just entitlement, that that was her orange, so I told her, Ellie, go ahead and peel your orange, and so I made her peel the entire orange, and then have her go and throw the orange away. And she was so upset, didn’t understand why. Yeah, exactly, because I made her. She even looked at me after, why did you make me peel the orange? And it was just that moment that, and I know you’ve done similar things with your boys, but that idea that she felt entitled to it, the very thing that I had given her, she wasn’t willing to be generous with, and so I wanted her to learn, listen, that was a gift, you’re not entitled to that. Daddy gave it to you and you should be able to be generous with it. And I know you’ve told an illustration before with the chicken nuggets, but it’s that idea, how often I’ve fallen into that very trap where I feel like, this is mine, I deserve this, this is for me, and how that fuels discontentment.

J: And I deserve more. Entitlement of I deserve more. The entitlement of more never leaves us feeling content.

R: No. And there was a day where we had nothing and now we have something.

J: If you looked at what you have today versus what you used to have you’d think, man, I am a blessed person. But you often look at today through the eyes of what you’re entitled, because you feel like you’ve earned more. Time causes us to feel like we’re entitled to more. And we live in that state of discontentment.

R: Yeah. That's really good.

J: Entitled, entitled, entitled.

R: I’ve never really thought about that.

J: We always say gratitude sustains joy. So how do you overcome that state of entitlement? I know it sounds simplistic. You remain thankful for what it is you have. Gratitude sustains joy. And it’s hard to be thankfully discontent.

R: That’s good.

J: It’s hard to be thankfully discontent. I’ve never been in a season or a situation, I’ve never been in a situation of gratitude or a season of gratitude or a response of gratitude and felt entitled and discontent. There's something about gratitude that, they can’t share the same platform. And so when I’m thanking God for my ministry position, I have a hard time in that same breath feeling discontent and entitled to more.When I’m thankful for for relationships, when I’m thankful God for, you name it. It’s hard to feel entitled and discontent.

R: Yeah. I think some of us, if not all of us listening to this, there’s probably some areas where if we really took inventory and searched our heart, there’s some areas of entitlement we probably need to let go of. Some areas where we feel like God has owed us something or a spouse has owed us something or a boss or coworkers or our employees have owed us something. And getting to a place where we can let that entitlement go. Because until then we’re going to live in that discontentment.

J Yeah and I really do believe that opening your hands and letting entitlement go frees your hands to receive what God has next. I really do believe that. And it’s not just preacher talk, I really do believe that some of our hands are gripped on things that are unhealthy and until we ungrip the unhealthy we can't receive the healthy. And so, just to kind of bring this two week conversation to a close, discontentment is something we all struggle with. It’s a root within side of us that often goes unnoticed. And until we notice that many of the decisions we’re making and the ways we’re feeling are coming from places of discontentment, we’re not going to recognize how discontentment is what we need to kill in order to overcome some of our other things. And we do that by recognizing the comparison, we’re not going to compare ourselves to others. The fastest way to forget what God thinks about you is to become consumed by what everybody else does. We’re also not going to feed the hunger pains that are unhealthy. We’re going to make sure that we recognize hunger pains and then we make conscious decisions on what to do with them.

R: Filter them.

J: Filter them. And then were’ going to make sure that we don’t live in a state of entitlement because it’s impossible to be thankfully discontent. So we’re going to be thankful. Gratitude is going to sustain our joy. Those are a few things we’re working on instead of living in a constant state of discontentment. I wish I could tell our listeners that we have full contentment right now, like I live in a place of just contentment. And that would be an absolute lie. But I do think, I feel more content now than I’ve felt my whole, as far as I can remember as an adult.

R: Well, hunger pains. I’m going to grab some lunch, I don’t know what you’re doing next. I don’t know what our listeners are doing next.

J: Your second lunch.

R: My second lunch.