Slaying Entitlement by Embracing Contentment
by Mary Mohler
My husband serves as the president of a large theological seminary. We have had the privilege for 25 years of embracing and equipping students and their families as they prepare for ministry in the US and around the world. One such family recently launched into the mission field in Africa along with their seven young children. One of their early prayer requests was for consistent electricity and running water.
As I considered what it must be like with to have seven children and only sporadic power and water, not only was I convicted of the need to pray for them but I marveled with shame at how rarely I give thanks to the Lord that when I turn on the faucet, clean water comes gushing out. When I flip on a switch, there is power. On the rare occasions when water or power fail, how terribly inconvenienced I feel as I scramble to find out when they will be restored.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me— practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4 v 8-9
So let’s be intentional about stalling unhealthy thoughts and looking for ways to turn them into grateful thoughts.
Here is a simple example that I now find myself thinking when I turn on the dishwasher. Both of my grandmothers were farmers’ wives with large families. How grateful they would have been for a microwave, a stand-mixer, or an ice-maker. And what about a dishwasher? I did not even have a large family, but I am very thankful for electric dishwashers even now as an empty-nester. After loading the dishes, I place that little soap tablet in the door and push start. Maybe I am weird, but I like to hear the tablet drop out of the compartment as it begins to do its job. When I hear it drop, I thank the Lord that I do not have to wash and dry any of those dishes. He has allowed me to live in an era when I can push a button and the work will be done. I also seek to be mindful that although many homes have dishwashers in my country, such conveniences are unheard of in many parts of the world.
Being thankful for the small things is a great entry into turning our thoughts around and focusing them on the Lord. If we have a mindset of gratitude even while carrying out the routine tasks of our day, we will find we have fewer thoughts of complaint and self-focus. This has been true for me. Ever since I took to heart the prayer request from my friend with seven children for just a few hours of water, I try to think differently when I turn on the faucet at home.
This is an adapted extract from Growing in Gratitude by Mary Mohler. Rediscover the joy of a thankful heart as Mary uses 25 years of experience in mentoring seminary wives at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary to unpack Scripture to help us grow in gracious gratitude.