The Secret of Being Content

According to military doctrine and hundreds of years of military dominance by the United States, there are four levels of war.

  1. Tactical
  2. Operational
  3. Strategic
  4. Global/Political

According to God and His word, we would be wise as followers of Christ to add a fifth level:

  1. Spiritual Warfare.

The levels of war are also comparable to levels of thinking, living, and being.

As a Battalion Chaplain, I was told by my leadership I was working at the tactical level. As a Brigade Chaplain, they told me it was now the operational level. When I moved on to work for a general officer, I was now working at the strategic level. Apparently, my next mission is to work with Joint Military, Politicians, Non-governmental Organizations, and others in order to be at the global or political level. But what must I do in order to work at the spiritual level?

I remember the first time I met a Missionary on Sabbatical. Speaking with them about their work was intriguing and left me feeling inadequate in regard to the work I was doing at the time. Suddenly my day to day problems and issues did not loom as large. The conversation challenged me to broaden my thinking and not get as caught up in menial things. I have often reflected on the timing of my Seminary Classes and the fact that had I taken Missiology on semester earlier, I may have become a Missionary to a foreign country instead of a Chaplain. Imagine my relief when I learned that within my denomination, Chaplains are considered and fall under the designation of Missionary.

Deployments have challenged me in these ways as well. Something about seeing the conditions people in other countries live in and how they cope with little to nothing in relation to what all we have in America. I believe it was the Apostle Paul who was reflecting on similar conditions when he wrote:

I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last, you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. – Philippians 4:10-13

As Americans, it is easy to miss the importance of the “secret to being content”. I believe it is the key to all levels of warfare and thinking. It may even be one of the highest ethics in regard to war when we reflect on the concept long enough. For those of us who have been deployed to combat operations, imagine being content or seeing a leader who is content. It may even be the missing piece for family members left behind to manage the home front. Imagine a spouse who is content and who teaches the children to be as well.

Please hear what I am saying and proposing as a way of being and acting. Contentment is a character trait, not a war strategy. It is a demeanor, a resolve, and an expectation. It is capable of replacing destructive traits like Pride, Greed, Lust, Jealousy, Anger, and the like. It also implies a thankfulness and certain level of humility. We would do well to rediscover the Apostle Paul’s secret.

When it comes to other people, family members, and co-workers and how we interact with them. There is a clinical practice used by psychologists called Unconditional Positive Regard (UPR). In clinical ethics, counsellors are taught to practice UPR. One could see UPR as being content with who God has brought into your life and prayerfully consider how you can be a blessing to them or what it is God would have you to do in their regard. Carl Rogers is said to be the psychologist that came up with the idea of UPR but when one reads the Bible, you find that Jesus practiced this way of interaction nearly two thousand years before Carl. In fact, after studying Carl Rogers, I am convinced he adapted the idea from our Lord’s attributes.

Spiritual level thinking and being require I practice the secret of being content. As I make this my way of life more and more, I suddenly understand the words of John, “He must increase and I must decrease.” I begin to realize that life is NOT a competition it is a competency called contentment! Am I content with who I am in Christ, what God has me doing, and who God has placed in my life? I think the difficulty is people may think of contentment as boring or me giving up what could be. On the contrary! It is a method of surrender that places us in a position that is anything but boring. Instead of giving up my dreams, I now start to see what God sees, and I will tend to take more risks to reach people who do not know the same level of thinking, being, and doing warfare. God is not confused about who He is and neither should we be confused about who we are in Him. Some secrets are meant to be exposed and contentment is one of them.

May God teach you through His word and conviction of the Holy Spirit how to be content, no matter what!

Mijikai Mason
Disclaimer: The thoughts and views published on the Veterans to Christ blog are those of Mijikai Mason and in no way are meant to represent the United States Army or the Armed Forces.

Bio: Mijikai Mason is an Ordained Southern Baptist minister and Chaplain in the United States Army. He has been in the Army for 26 years both as an enlisted Soldier and now as an Officer. He has been stationed at various bases in the United States and in United States Army Garrison Schweinfurt, Germany. He holds an undergraduate degree in Religion from the University of Mobile, a Master of Divinity degree from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary in Theology and Evangelism and a Master of Arts degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Webster University. Chaplain (MAJ) Mijikai Mason was selected by the Army in 2013, to become a Family Life Chaplain and began his service in this field starting 15 May 2015. He is the Deputy ESC Chaplain and Family Life Chaplain for the 593 Expeditionary Support Command at Joint Base Lewis McCord. He has deployed four times: Desert Storm (1991), Iraq twice (2005-2006; 2007-2008), and Afghanistan (2012-2013). He has a total of 42 months deployed in combat and logistics operations. Mijikai and his wife, Ashley, have been married for 17 years this May and live near Joint Base Lewis McChord, Washington with their four daughters.