Privilege Entitlement and Contentment

I have been doing some reflecting over the last few weeks about why I feel somewhat discontent in life at the moment.

Much of it stems from not feeling like I am living as purposefully and passionately as I had done in years gone by. I don’t live with the same clarity of calling I had only 5 years ago and I find it disturbing and unsettling.

When I would coach people in this place I had a simple question for them (well it’s not that simple but it served the purpose) It was ‘if money were no object what would you do with your life?’ My own answer to this invariably was ‘exactly what I’m doing now’ (and I always felt that was the right answer) however now the answer I would give is ‘I don’t really know…’

And therein lies my frustration.

It’s not money that holds me back, but clarity. Money is always a consideration of some sort because none of us have the option to live without resources, but I know we could live on a lot less if we had to.

I’ve been in this place for a while now – it’s a bit like treading water – not going under, staying afloat easily even, but not feeling like I am actually moving in a clear direction.

I haven’t been here before so I can’t see what’s over the rise. I don’t know if this period will pass or if its here to stay. Since year 10 high school I have had some very clear goals, directions and ambitions. To not have that is strange.

I have considered making some ‘hard’ changes in life just to shake things up a bit. Quit leading the church or shut down my business… Both pretty drastic measures and neither feels right. Both feel like a bloke in the middle of a mid-life crisis trying to smash his way out… To pursue either change would certainly upset the equilibrium, but that would also feel like I am pushing something to happen that just isn’t there – like picking fruit that isn’t ripe.

As I was thinking about this on Friday it occurred to me that the reason I struggle is because I somehow feel like I am entitled to an exciting, fulfilling and inspiring life. And as a result anything less than that feels like either I’m being cheated, or being consciously frivolous with life and wasting it.

That sense of entitlement really threw me. I hadn’t really seen it from that angle before. But I think part of why I struggle with this place in life is because I do hold a (previously unconcious) belief that I am supposed to have clarity, purpose and fulfillment in all I do. Somehow – whether its my experience, life context or whatever has led me to believe that this is a ‘right’.

I’m guessing this is a western trait as I doubt folks in developing world countries ever get as frustrated with a less than inspirational existence. To have a job, a healthy family, a home and adequate food is often enough to satisfy. In fact I imagine if someone were offered a life swap for mine, it could look pretty attractive. I don’t see any ‘escape routes’ from this current situation, so I’m guessing its a place I may live for a while. Its not unhappy. Its not especially difficult. Just very different to where I have been for all my adult years.

So – while I’m here I think perhaps the thing I do need to aspire towards is learning what contentment looks like outside of goals and ambitions. Just another life change… Maybe the 50’s will be easier!

5 thoughts on “Privilege Entitlement and Contentment

  1. Yep, sounds like mid-life crisis all right! Some blokes buy themselves a sports car or a motor bike. I think I missed by being too terrified in the middle of setting up QBC (both of them). In my sixties it’s more about my own attitude to myself that is so important to me.

  2. Honest. Thanks. For me the question becomes what is God doing and how can I align, which is a shift from younger days when I was more interested in conquering because I thought I had all the answers. Have you read Palker Palmer’s “Let your life speak”?

  3. Ditto; again!

    I am not so sure about the mid-life crisis bit though. I am into my 50s and still feel that way. Mind you I have always been a bit of a slow starter and it takes a while for me to find an accurate reflection on myself and what is going on around me.

    I think I have been in that stage for a few years now, since the crossing over (at 50) I suspect. I even wondered if I was heading into some sort of clinical depression. Apparently not though.

    I suspect it is more a ‘stage of life’ thing, although what stage of lief I am not sure. I am, however, learning a bit more about contentment and patience. I would still like some excitement and challenge but!

    Cheers mate,


  4. Hi Brian – I am guessing it’s a mid-life thing – either way I think it’s better to be aware of it and ‘call it’ rather than wake one day in the wrong bed with a sportscar and a tatt! Nice to hear from you mate

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