Always Content, Never Satisfied

I love this sentiment: “Be content, not satisfied.”

I can’t remember when I first heard it. It sounds like something John Maxwell would say, but I’m not sure. It’s certainly not a new idea. But for many leaders, mastering the power of this statement is novel and can provide new innovations and invigorate change.

At Woodstock City Church where I lead, we are constantly fighting to remain content, but not satisfied. Content because we are partnering with God and his church. Unsatisfied because the mission of God’s church is too big to every feel like it is complete. We take this so seriously around our church that we even labeled it “Make it Better,” one of our six core staff behaviors. “Make it Better” means never fall prey to believing we have arrived.

You know that in an ever-evolving culture, we can never stop evolving our approach, our model, or our strategies. As my friend and boss (Andy Stanley) likes to say, “We must be married to our mission, not our model.”

As a leader, the first question you need to ask yourself is “Am I content?” Discontent leaders are often disasters. Discontentment typically leads to poor leadership behaviors and lack of valuing people over products. But dissatisfied — well that’s a good thing.

The second question, “With what are you unsatisfied?” Is where I am living as a leader right now.

Here’s my current list of “content, but not satisfied:”

  • Decreasing attendance patterns from regular attendees.
  • Mission engagement.
  • Lack of enthusiasm from our 4th and 5th grade attenders compared to their elementary peers.
  • Disengagement from high school students as they progress in our church.
  • Finding optimal ways to make non-optimal service times more optimal.
  • We should baptize more people.
  • Increasing generosity.
  • Engaging new guest more quickly.
  • Volunteer recruitment and retention.
  • Increasing our staff’s voice to make everything better.

I don’t know how many of these we can solve at Woodstock City Church, but I’m grateful that we aren’t satisfied with where we are?

What about you?

  3 Comments

  1. Ron Sweet   •  

    Gavin, thanks for preaching at the Crossing in STL this summer. I loved your message! I am the campus pastor at our Fenton Campus. Even though we didn’t get the chance to meet, I wanted to reach out to you. Love reading your blog. As I made my own list this morning of areas I’m not satisfied, I found similar patterns with your list. Would love to connect sometime and pick your brain on leadership, especially on leading staff. My direct reports just went from 1 to 5. Thanks for all you do for the Kingdom!

  2. Mark   •  

    Having a child that just left UpStreet, I asked him about the 4th and 5th grade enthusiasm. He communicated to me that in 5th grade, he and all of his friends were kind of bored during the music and kind of over UpStreet by the latter half of 5th grade. I realize that just starting Transit might have elicited the above response and I am a big believer in needing to look forward to the next step, but it is a real and tangible feeling of dampened enthusiasm. Not sure the solution, but maybe during 5th grade they could get a Transit type day once a month/quarter.

    If baptizing people is on your heart, there are many opportunities for you to make that happen during services that you aren’t delivering a message.

    Just my 2 cents, but I love Woodstock City and I really like that you are striving to be better at what you and the church do.

    • Gavin Adams   •     Author

      Thanks for the feedback, Mark. I and our leadership team have been wrestling with these issues and ideas for a little while. We have some solutions we are about to release (and some that have already been implemented). We believe that no matter how good we are, there is always room to make it better!

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