Sorry! This is not your guide to beating the crowds or getting the best deals later this week. If you would though, give me just a second more before you click away or mentally place this post into the click bait bin. Our greatest risk on Black Friday is not having some guy grab that 4k TV right in front of us. It’s trying to fill our souls the wrong way. It’s looking for a way to deal with guilt or emptiness or pain without Jesus. In other words, if our souls are going to survive Black Friday that will only happen through true and lasting contentment.
So let’s be clear about contentment. It cannot be taught – at least not in the way we normally think of. If it were that simple and easy, we’d all do that all the time. We'd teach ourselves the logic of it and it would stick. “Don’t you see,” we’d tell ourselves and our kids, “contentment makes the same sort of sense as 1 + 1 = 2.” And then we’d all nod our heads in agreement won over by our own irrefutable logic. Pretty sure that’s not effective. Why? Because I know me. And I know my wife and my daughter. And if the Scriptures are true, I know you and your family too.
If I’m going to tamp down the whirring, yearning, and chasing of my own discontentment this Christmas, if I’m going to help my family do the same, there is only one force with both the consistency and the power to deliver. His name? The Holy Spirit. He alone will allow me to walk past the Apple store without a second thought (Man alive that new iPad Pro looks sweet!). He alone will allow my three-year-old daughter to walk past racks of Christmas toys without throwing a tantrum or convince her she’s alright without that additional Christmas cookie.
Keeping that in mind, here are a few quick thoughts on unleashing the Spirit on you and your family:
- Unleash the Spirit on yourself. In the Word, you’ll find this incredible, mind-blowing God who has met everyone one of your most basic and most profound needs in totally overwhelming ways. Did I gush enough to make my point? The reality is that if we parents are not convinced we have everything we could possibly want or need in Christ, how could we possibly hope to share that same news with our kids? My daughter can smell a rat a mile away! BTW, this bullet point is pushing the same Spirit provided secret Paul said he “learned” in Philippians 4:12 for contentment.
- Unleash the Spirit on your child(ren). See above. Just think, Christmas is coming soon! What better picture is there than that mangy manger for teaching the love and promises of God?!
- Live gratitude. Even shout it! When I see another stunning Carolina crescent moon, my whole house knows about it and who put it there. Sometimes at dinner, I’ll very intentionally ask my wife and daughter, “What are you thankful for today?” I do that at my daughter’s bedtime too. At the tender age of three, she sometimes has a hard time getting past the zoo, but – hey – I don’t mind asking her, “Are you thankful for Jesus too? Why?”
- Ignore, squash, or redirect discontentment. Pray for wisdom on which of those triggers to pull in which circumstances and then pull one. Don’t be afraid to let the Spirit convict through you. Whatever you do, don’t EVER indulge discontentment. The human heart is a bottomless pit. One more thing will not satisfy. Only Jesus does.
Finally, build these rhythms into your family life intentionally, practically, and concretely all the time. The human heart doesn’t magically heal from discontentment after Black Friday or after December 25th rolls by. I promise you that. Before we know it, 2016 will drop in on us and once again in the New Year we will find our hearts in need of Holy Spirit provided contentment. I am also delighted, however, to tell you that once again in the New Year you’ll reliably find the Spirit for yourself and your children in the words and promises of God.