“Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.”
– Henry David Thoreau
Contentment: “the state of being happy and satisfied : the state of being content : freedom from worry or restlessness : peaceful satisfaction”
I recently watched Apple’s September 2016 Keynote event that was held on the 7th of this month. I honestly have never watched one before, but a guy at work reminded me that it was happening so I figured I would let it play in the background and if anything exciting happened I’d take a look. Several speakers took the stage and promoted the latest and greatest to come out of Cupertino. When Tim Cook finally announced the iPhone 7, you could see the live audience nearly salivating. I watched as feature after feature and innovation after innovation was demonstrated to the world. They concluded the announcement with the prices of the phone line including a drop in price of last year’s model. I looked at it and just shook my head. The models and the versions may change, but nothing that matters really changes. It made me honestly ask myself, “How much money do you want to have wrapped up in your phone?”
I own an Apple iPhone 5S. It wasn’t last year’s model… or even the year before that. It was released almost 3 years ago to the date (September 20, 2013). Granted the way that the processors work in phones isn’t an apples-to-apples comparison to desktop/laptop processors, it’s a fair statement to say that my “old” phone has more computing power than the desktop computers I was using in high school a little over 10 years ago. The “old” phone is certainly more capable… it can connect wirelessly to a local or a satellite network and give me the information I want anytime I want it. The phone itself has an 8 Megapixel camera included on the back for beautiful pictures pretty much anywhere I go. The list goes on and on, but I think the best thing about this phone is the fact that it’s paid for in full and it’s mine. You see, I did a dumb thing when I bought this phone. I don’t regret buying the phone, I just regret how I went about buying it. I financed it through AT&T for about $30 a month over 30 months. When I asked what the price difference was between the 16GB, the 32GB and the 64GB models, I was told that the price difference was just a couple of bucks a month. I swallowed the bait… hook, line and sinker. I went with the big model because it was only a few dollars more. $4 more a month over 30 months comes out to $120. AT&T was all too happy to check my credit and happily collect the taxes on the phone and let me leave the store a proud new iPhone owner. Once Steph and I got our financial act together, we paid the phone off early to avoid paying another penny of interest to AT&T. I financed a “want” and I paid for it… literally.
I do my best to take care of what God has blessed me with. My iPhone 5S looks almost as good as the day I pulled it out of the box brand new. I was talking with Steph, and I asked her, “Why do I need a new iPhone when this phone makes calls, texts and does everything I need it to reliably and without any real issues?” We couldn’t come up with a reason why a new iPhone 7 was needed. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the hype, in the rat race and the thought that your life isn’t complete without it. As I watched the Keynote event, I imagined myself with the sweet new double lens camera on the “plus” model taking great pictures in the woods. I imagined myself with a much larger screen reading the news and enjoying a game. I imagined myself using a new pair of wireless headphones listening to podcasts and music. All of these things were great to think about, but it was startling when I realized that all of these things can be done with the phone I currently have. This new phone has nothing new that I “need” in it. That was the moment when I believe I more deeply understood contentment. To be able to look at the promises of all the “nice things” in the world and be able to thank God for what I have and know that I don’t need it to be who God needs me to be. This idea extends to much more than just smartphones… cars, houses, clothes, “toys”, other technology and more. I don’t believe that we’re to look at contentment as an excuse for being lazy or different, but rather to have an attitude of thankfulness and patience in waiting to wisely move forward in a way that honors God as we use what he has blessed us with.
Dave Ramsey actually did a rant on this very subject the day that I was putting this together. It made me laugh because I 100% agree with what he says about it. I encourage you to check it out here:
(One last note: The photo above is my iPhone.)