In the mid 90's Fred Smith coined the phrase, constructive spirit of discontent.' He writes,
Some people would call this criticism, but there's a big difference in being constructively discontent and being critical. If somebody says, "There's got to be a better way to do this," I see if there's leadership potential by asking, "Have you ever thought about what that better way might be?"
If he says no, he is being critical, not constructive.
But if he says yes, he's challenged by a constructive spirit of discontent. That's the unscratchable itch. It is always in the leader. HT
9. Coachable people possess a 'constructive spirit of discontent.'
Coachable leaders have an unscratchable itch. They come to a coaching session with a unquenchable desire to improve. They want to improve themselves, their leadership, their relationships and their ministries or organizations. They reject the status quo, they refuse mediocrity and they recognize plateaus and push beyond them.
They want and are ready to have more of what they really want.
So few of us know what we really want and coaching is a great place to discover what that is and how to get it. But the coachable leader must possess a ‘constructive spirit of discontent’ in order for coaching to work well.
The Apostle Paul embodied this conviction.
1) He possessed a constructive spirit of discontent in his spiritual life. He was not satisfied with his current relationship and experience with Jesus. John Piper refers to this as "Holy Dissatisfaction."
"I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me." Philippians 3:10-12 HT
2) He possessed a constructive spirit of discontent in his relationships. Nineteen times Paul used the word 'urge' in his writings to the churches and individuals he was mentoring. This word can be translated as beseech, call forth, exhort, earnestly appeal, passionately entreat.
- He urged them to live surrendered lives to Jesus (Romans 12:1-2)
- He urged them to pray for him and the expansion of the gospel (Romans 15:30-31)
- He urged them to watch out for false teaching (Romans 16:17-18)
- He urged them to follow his example in Christ (I Corinthians 4:16)
- He urged them to take personal risks (I Corinthians 16:12)
- He urged them to submit when they needed to submit (I Corinthians 16:15; I Timothy 6:2)
- He urged them to forgive when forgiveness was needed (II Corinthians 2:7-8)
- He urged them to push forward in God's grace (II Corinthians 6:1-2)
- He urged them to finish the task that they started (II Corinthians 8:6; 9:5; 12:18)
- He urged them to live up to their calling in Christ (Ephesians 4:1)
- He urged them to please God (I Thessalonians 4:1)
- He urged them in the way of love (I Thessalonians 4:10)
- He urged them to call the best out of others (I Thessalonians 5:14)
- He urged them to move out of their idleness (II Thessalonians 3:11-13)
- He urged them to face difficult tasks with courage (I Timothy 1:3-4)
- He urged them to pray (I Timothy 2:1-3)
He also expressed his need for deeper relationships and mutual dependency. Read the endings of all Paul's letters to see the relational comments and the urgent pleas to pursue the faith and to come to his aid. Hear the passion in his voice in his appeal to Timothy...
"Do your best to come to me quickly, for Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, and Titus to Dalmatia. Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry. I sent Tychicus to Ephesus. When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, and my scrolls, especially the parchments. Alexander the metalworker did me a great deal of harm. The Lord will repay him for what he has done. You too should be on your guard against him, because he strongly opposed our message. At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them. But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen." (II Timothy 4:9-18)
3) He possessed a constructive spirit of discontent in his mission. Paul wasn't a 'driven leader' but a 'drawn leader' a man drawn by God to fulfill the calling he received (Acts 9:15-16) no matter want the consequences (Acts 20:22-24). This calling lifted his eyes to see the field of harvest that others didn't see.
"It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known, so that I would not be building on someone else’s foundation...So after I have completed this task and have made sure that they have received this fruit, I will go to Spain and visit you on the way. I know that when I come to you, I will come in the full measure of the blessing of Christ." Romans 15:20; 28-29
"Our hope is that, as your faith continues to grow, our area of activity among you will greatly expand, so that we can preach the gospel in the regions beyond you." (II Corinthians 2:15-16)
Reflective Questions (These questions are taken from Bill Hybels, Courageous Leadership)
- Is my calling sure?
- Is my vision clear?
- Is my passion hot?
- Am I developing my gifts?
- Is my character submitted to Christ?
- Is my pride subdued?
- Am I overcoming fear?
- Are interior issues undermining my leadership?
- Is my pace sustainable?
- Is my love for God and people increasing?
Next Time: Coachable people let go of the past and push forward into the future.
Check out the Ten Marks of a Coachable Leader series.