Calling, Contentment, Lindsay Harrel, Passion, The Difference Between Contentment and Complacency

The Difference Between Contentment and Complacency: Guest Post by Lindsay Harrel

Today, I’m so excited to have my good friend, and fellow aspiring author, Lindsay Harrel, on my blog. We met online and through My Book Therapy, and we met face to face last year at the American Christian Fiction Writers conference in Dallas. Lindsay never ceases to amaze me with her depth of insight and her encouraging words. I’m thrilled she’s here!


A few weeks ago in my Sunday school class, we were discussing contentment and one of my friends asked a question that intrigued me: Can we be content and still strive for our dreams?

It made me stop and really think, because I’m currently pursuing the dream of becoming a published author. Is it wrong to go hard after a dream? If I do, am I not accepting the life God has given me? Does it mean I am not practicing contentment? That I’m not grateful for the good things in my life?

In my opinion, the answer is no. I believe there is a definite difference between contentment and complacency.

Reading one particular definition for complacency was an “aha!” moment for me. According to, complacency is “the feeling you have when you are satisfied with yourself.”

I don’t know about you, but I don’t ever want to be satisfied with myself. I want to always be improving, bettering myself, challenging myself to be more like Jesus. A complacent person doesn’t bother striving for dreams because she is “happy” as she is – even in her ignorance. Even in her sin.

A content person, on the other hand, knows that God called her to something bigger than her current situation – even if that means having a better attitude IN that situation or living it out with God at the center.

A content person is allowed to dream. She knows that God planted big dreams inside of her for a reason, and that if she pursues them, she is being true to who God created her to be. She has a peace in the pursuit – and she has a peace if God tells her “no” or “not right now.”

Contentment means delighting ourselves in the Lord and getting the desires of our hearts – because when we grow nearer to Him, His desires become ours. What He wants is what we want.

It means constantly seeking God and what He wants for us and from us.

Complacency, on the other hand, means we wait for God to come to us – and that we ignore the signs that He’s been there waiting all along.

Complacency is also waiting for life to change, but having no real hope that it will. It’s living life with no greater purpose beyond what we can see today.

But contentment – oh, beloved contentment – is praying with confidence for our dreams, and knowing that God’s plan is ultimately better.

Contentment, whether you are pursuing a big dream or a small one, means being at peace with whatever God gives us. It’s trusting God to be God – and being okay that we are not Him. It’s relinquishing control. It’s knowing that He knows best.

Contentment is not an easy path. Complacency is much simpler.

Complacency means not striving for a dream out of fear.

But contentment takes courage.

Take heart, friend, and strive for your dreams, knowing that the Lord who gave them to you will not forsake you. Have peace in the pursuit.

“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” (Isaiah 26:3)

Your Turn: What dream are you striving for – and how has God spoken peace in your pursuit?


Since the age of six, when she wrote the riveting tale “How to Eat Mud Pie,” Lindsay Harrel has passionately engaged the written word as a reader, writer, and editor. She is a finalist in the American Christian Fiction Writers contemporary category for 2013, and is published in the Falling in Love with You anthology released by OakTara in October 2012. Lindsay lives in Phoenix, Arizona, with her husband of six years and two golden retriever puppies in serious need of training. Connect with her on her blog or via Facebook or Twitter (@LindsayHarrel).

18 thoughts on “The Difference Between Contentment and Complacency: Guest Post by Lindsay Harrel”

  1. How fun to see Lindsay visiting your blog today, Jeanne! And I loved her encouraging take on contentment! What dreams am I striving for? To love people better, to live honestly, to become a better write with each book I write. How has God spoken peace to me in my pursuit? By walking me deeper into the assurance of his love for me — and often that assurance is spoken through his Word or through the prayers of a friend.


  2. Okay, somehow I totally missed this earlier today. But I LOVE this post, Linz. The difference you paint between contentment and complacency is awesome. Here’s to contentment! 🙂


  3. This is a subject to which I’ve given a lot of recent thought, because I was ready to give up on some of my most defining dreams.

    The problem is that you can’t simply turn off the lights and close the door, leaving the abandoned dream to wither in the dark. It’s more like doing surgery on yourself. (I actually have done minor surgery on myself, to remove bits of metal that got where they should not be. Please don’t try it at home.)

    When you excise a dream, you also remove part of the spirit that kept the dream alive. The Holy Spirit, if you will. That affects everything in your life, from that moment until you hit the Pearly Gates.

    It’s not pretty. One might think that the abandonment of a dream will free up emotional ‘capacity’ for others, and resources that can be used for ‘unselfish’ causes. It does, in a way. In a bad way. To murder your own dreams you have to become judge, jury, and executioner…and you’ll do that when you intersect others’ lives, without even realizing it. You’ll be grim, cynical…and complacent.

    It’s the complacency of the person who “sits in the seat of the scornful”. You’ve killed a part of yourself with the acid of scorn, and now you sit – not stand, but sit in judgement – ready to give others the same treatment. There was a God-sized hole in you, but it’s scarring over.

    Not pretty.

    Far better to keep the dream alive, and to do one thing, every day, to help make it come true, being content with your days meanwhile. Maybe you won’t finish it in this life, but so what?

    You’re a child of Eternity. There’s time!


    1. Andrew, I had never considered all the ramifications of giving up a dream. On the hard days, I’m sometimes tempted to give up on one dream in particular, but I’ve never thought out was the aftershock would be from that. Your thoughts bring clarity, and remind me about when I did give up on a dream. The descriptions are pretty similar to what I walked through.

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts and encouragements. Enlightening as always. 🙂


  4. I’ve been struggling with this question “Can we be content and still strive for our dreams?” and truly glad found this post today. Thanks for your wisdom!


    1. Interesting question, Agric. I would say we can be content and still strive for our dreams. But we have to figure out where our contentment lies. If we base it in anything besides the Lord, even striving for our dreams will leave us discontent.


  5. I like this definition of Complacency:
    “Living life with no greater purpose beyond what we can see today.”
    I think God blesses us when we step out with the purpose of honoring him through our acts of service or personal achievements.
    I believe one of the best things we can do for ourselves is to ask, “What is my dream and how will it glorify God?”


    1. That’s a great definition of complacency, Gene. I think you’re right. God hasn’t called us to live a life only for the moment. When He gives us a dream, He enables us to fulfill it, if we’re looking to Him and seeking to honor Him. Great question to consider. Thanks for sharing your insights. You’ve got me thinking about this.

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