G-13: Contented or Complacent? … February 28, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog


Contented is having the peace of mind to pursue greater things.hammock

Complacent is thinking that peace of mind is the greatest thing.

Contented is arriving at a goal and noticing that the road continues.

Complacent is the belief that the road ends with the latest goal.

Contented is being grateful for the next challenge as you celebrate the present victory.

Complacent is deciding that the present victory grants permission to languish in gratitude.

Contented is finding your footing and looking out to help those who are still slipping.

Complacent is being satisfied with personal safety.

Contented is having good cheer without always being happy.

Complacent is demanding happiness before having good cheer.

Contented is seeking God.

Complacent is loving God.

Contented is a stop-off to glory.

Complacent is finding glory in the stop-off.

We are not meant to be satisfied. We gain satisfaction with each new, meaningful encounter.

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Click for details on the SpirTed 2014 presentation

Click for details on the SpirTed 2014 presentation

Please contact Jonathan’s agent, Jackie Barnett, at (615) 481-1474, for information about scheduling SpiriTed in 2014.

click to hear music from Spirited 2014

click to hear music from Spirited 2014

Enough Stuff… January 6, 2013


child surrounded by toysThere may be nothing more frightening than seeing a child or a teenager in the possession of great sums of money. Since prudence has not yet arrived on the scene and wisdom is somewhere in the distant future, money can often be the vehicle to disaster rather than the key to peace of mind.

We all know this. Yet for some reason we still persist in the notion that possessing more THINGS will free us from the burdens of poverty and set in motion a miracle of happiness in our souls.Since I have decided to become a child in 2013, I need to realize that my greatest requirement is not money.

Children need security.  Your immediate question, I assume, will be, “Well, what is security, if not money?”

Since a child has no bills in his or her name, no mortgage to negotiate nor car payment to fret over, to a child, security is to live in a worry-free environment. As I have traveled around this country and even to other lands, I have noticed that joy has very little to do with circumstances or the quality of the enclosure wherein you place your bed. Joy is the by-product of being content with your present layout without complaint.

So I have seen children in Haiti playing with a ball that was made out of mud, dried and hardened in the sun for better tossing possibilities. They were squealing and clapping like they were on some American Junior Soccer team wearing $100 uniforms, having paid a $200 entrance fee, nibbling specially purchased granola bars and sipping exotic waters at $5 a pop. The Haitian children felt secure … because they were worry-free.

So is it possible to have enough money but still be nervous about losing your position, and actually make your household a place of miserable uncertainty? Absolutely.

You know what I’ve learned? We in America have enough STUFF. We just need to learn how to spread it out and use it better.

Children need security in a worry-free environment. So how do we make it worry-free? Keep it simple. Your vacation should not look like the travel schedule for the President of the United States. Your weekend of planned family activities should not cost more than your monthly electric bill.

Don’t get cheap–get creative. Children want to enjoy themselves in a worry-free environment where they feel secure. It is not old-fashioned to think that you can still take your family out into a tent in the woods, sitting around a fire toasting marshmallows, telling ghost stories and have a roaring good time. You may have to turn off the cell phones and the I-Everythings–and just absorb the available giggling possibilities.

We have enough stuff but we still don’t feel “stuffed”–secure–and because we don’t feel secure, we worry, and passing worry onto your family complicates the lives of those who are nurtured by simplicity.

So I am going to stop chasing the American dream because before my eyes it has turned into a nightmare. I am going to cease to pinch pennies only to suddenly and extravagantly spend too much money on nothing, but instead, disperse my funds more evenly, to create the greatest blessing for dollar value.

I am a child of God who needs security by living in a worry-free environment that is kept simple. No wonder Jesus said to stop thinking about what you eat and drink. After all, we all know where our next meal is going to end up. And whether you spent five dollars on it or five hundred doesn’t really matter when it reaches its destination.

  • Enough stuff.
  • Enough worry.
  • Enough complication.

Enough said.

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What You Get Is What You See… December 22, 2011

Jonathan in Miami

He handed me a pamphlet. He was obviously very proud of it. It was an advertisement for a seminar on leadership–twenty-four weeks. I glanced down and read the first line written on flap one.  “Training leaders is a complex process.” I felt a big “uh-oh” shudder through my soul. I knew the gentleman was well-intentioned but he had committed the cardinal sin of motivating and working with people. He began his spiel by making it clear it was hard–or as he phrased it, “complex.”

I do not know when it became a symbol of intelligence to portray the follow-through on a plan as being difficult. I guess we feel more noble when there’s some pain associated with our ultimate pleasure. I suppose we fear that unless there are some bruises, there’s no evidence that we’ve survived a conflict.

It just doesn’t work.

When Jesus came to earth, he tried to explain to the religious leaders that they had made everything so difficult that no one could possibly achieve it, let alone desire to pursue it. Simultaneously these same religious leaders failed to offer assistance to their flailing congregations on how to survive the processes.

Jesus said his way was easy. He said, “Come and I’ll give you rest.” He told us to stop worrying. He encouraged us to count the cost and if we found out we couldn’t do it, just to discover a way to make peace with ourselves over our present lacking.

Making things complicated does not make them better. Do you hear that? It is a two-fold problem caused by a two-headed monster. The problem is that most people want to control their lives when the best we can hope for is to contribute. I am fully aware every day as I walk into the great arena of humanity that I certainly do not have all the answers and may not have any. What I have is a backpack of talent and a jug of grace. Those are my two great offerings to humankind–a backpack of talent, which hopefully I have tried and tested and can confidently assert as being intact and ready to go–and a jug of grace, which I am ready to pour out to others for their foibles (and to myself when some of my efforts turn comical).

I am a contributor, not a controller. I would dare say that most people are not happy unless they feel they have control over their lives–and the absence of control is not only inevitable, but may actually be necessary for us to maintain emotional balance, spiritual maturity and mental health.

The reason we feel that life is complex is that deep in our inner parts, we think that when push comes to shove, it will be all up to us. We do not anticipate that other contributors will come along and bolster our contribution to a mutual conclusion. Why is that?  It is caused by the two-headed monster which prompts us to believe that we need to control instead of contribute. Here’s why:

1. “I need to be perfect.” Of course, we aren’t. So when we fall short of the glory of our own expectations, we are forced into a profile of lying to make things look better. Even though people will say they are not perfect, they will go ahead and stomp and stump to make themselves look righteous in every endeavor. Freeing oneself of the need to be perfect–or even to come close–is allowing your being to contribute to a potential blessing instead of trying to control the final score.

But the reason we feel the need to be perfect is the second head of the monster:

2. “We believe that God has a plan.” Sounds good, doesn’t it? Almost Biblical. Part of us wants God to be manipulative so we don’t have any responsibility. But how could God have a plan?? He created human beings and gave them free will and then told them that He loved them no matter what, fully aware of their capacity to fall short of the glory of His ideal. If God really had a plan and we kept  turning in “incompletes” in His class, then aren’t we speaking of a salvation endeavor that is doomed to failing grade? God cannot work with human beings and have a plan. Let me reinforce that. I can’t work with human beings and have a plan! Can you? Because if I have a plan and insist on maintaining every iota of its premises, I will end up hating everyone I work with and privately want to kill them.

  • God gives free will.
  • Free will breeds eccentricity.
  • Eccentricity produces evolution.
  • Evolution sparks change towards the more workable.
  • More workable ideas lead to greater understanding and easier labor.
  • Easier labor lends itself to peace of mind
  • And peace of mind takes us right back to God.

This is the glorious circle of life.

So even though my friend thought he was being extraordinarily deep by claiming that training leaders was a complex process, unless he simplifies it down by teaching people to become contributors without needing to control, and that perfection is not necessary to participate because God has not locked into a plan, waiting for us to measure up, he will end up laying a foundation and never constructing a house.

Life is not “what you see is what you get.” Rather, life is “what you get is what you see.”

In other words, today’s opportunity shows up and the fruit of that possibility is borne out only through how we see it and decide to contribute to it. I realize this morning that my day will unfold. My reactions are unknown even to the heavens and the best I can do is contribute, surrendering the foolish notion of controlling.

Contribute. Don’t control. Stop trying to be perfect. Settle for using your talent and extending your mercy–and rejoice because God doesn’t have a plan.

Because if He did … He would probably have to snuff us.


Merry Christmas! Listen to Jangled, below — the snazziest mix of Jingle Bells, Carol of the Bells and Silver Bells you’ll ever hear!


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