It’s easy to get caught up in the monotony of life, isn’t it? Monday you need to get that project done for work or school. Tuesday you have to go help a friend or your family—the list can go on all the way until Sunday—and suddenly you are back to square one, and the cycle is ready to repeat itself. Yet you ready yourself for the cycle. You’ve done it for so long, and it almost seems second nature—natural almost—to just go at it again and again, countless times.
And while running through that cycle, you begin to sense something. Something that at first feels fantastic, and feels oh so right. Nothing bad is happening to me. It’s like a sigh of relief for a time—an itch that has been scratched. You might even occasionally find some small successes once and a while, which brings on the thoughts: Good job, me. I could do this every day. This is nice. This is comfortable.
What you are experiencing is a sense of complacency.
You have probably heard this word thrown around a lot casually, especially these days. So-and-so was complacent; they were too complacent so they lost—stuff like that gets said more than enough in the media. It’s almost as if they took the word and made it a catchphrase or “hot word” of sorts. We all hear it as a negative phrase—a characteristic we should avoid—but no one cares to explain why it’s bad. You never hear people talk about the reasons behind complacency and why it is important to avoid it.
There are most definitely reasons why we should all be wary of this rising feeling known as being complacent!
And first and foremost, I feel it is necessary to say that complacency is NOT the same as LAZY.
Lazy means you lack motivation. Lazy means you are unwilling to work. Complacency is neither of those things.
What Complacency Is
So that leads us to the question, “What exactly is complacency?” Merriam-Webster defines complacency in two ways:
1: self-satisfaction especially when accompanied by unawareness of actual dangers or deficiencies
2: an instance of usually unaware or uninformed self-satisfaction
What we need to glean out of these two definitions is that complacency stems from self-satisfaction and putting too much stock in our works; it stems from putting too much emphasis on self-aggrandizement. It’s okay to feel good—I’m not here to tell you to stop feeling satisfied in yourself or something you do. But what complacency is telling you is this: it’s more than okay to feel good about yourself or your situation; don’t worry about very real possibilities or dangers, just focus on feeling good.
The other important piece in how complacency is actually defined, is that it is contingent upon ignoring deficiencies and pitfalls within ourselves or our present circumstances. In the second definition, complacency also aptly implies that we are uneducated or oblivious to other things because we are so interested in satisfaction. Our ignorance of our weakest areas leads us to satiation.
That satiation then leads us to feeling an excess of emptiness. That emptiness then goes on to erase our desire to challenge ourselves. And at the worst, it completely blinds us to the things that will make us even better as people.
That contrasts harshly with laziness. Because as I said before, laziness means two things: first, that you lack motivation, and second, that you are unwilling to work. Complacency doesn’t mean that you lack motivation—it is quite the opposite. You are motivated to be complacent; you are motivated to feel a sense of abundant comfort, and to always ignore the negatives. When you get to a level of complacency, when you truly feel the full effect, it’s not because you weren’t motivated for something. No, it’s because you were so motivated for this desired outcome that you ended up there! And once you got there, you didn’t want to leave.
Lack of work ethic is also not the same as complacent. It’s widely recognized that attaining a level of comfort is only possible because of the grind it took to get there. When someone says, “Their complacency is what killed them,” they aren’t saying, “They were too lazy and they failed.” What they are actually saying is, “They never gleaned any lessons from the work they did to get there.”
So why exactly is complacency so bad in the first place?
I’ll tell you.
Complacency leads to settling for monotony. It leads to settling for the mundane, instead of taking the challenge of reaching for the extraordinary. Once you hit that level where you tell yourself it is okay to rest on your laurels; to rest on too much of yourself; you are essentially killing your potential and draining liveliness from your God given spirit. You are putting yourself in the ultimate position for failure; and it’s the kind of failure that when you reach the age of 70, 80, even 90 years old it nags you. The kind of failure only borne of the question, “What if?”
God doesn’t call us to settle for anything less than all-out, passion driven intensity for the lives He has given us. In Revelation 3:15-17, when God speaks letters to the seven churches, He says this to the church of Laodicea:
“15 ‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. 17 For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.’” (ESV)
It’s a powerful reminder that when we turn a blind eye to progress; when we say “Nah, I’m good,” to our callings—for any number of reasons, like fear, wanting to be comfortable, or feeling ashamed—we are forfeiting the rewards Jesus has set for us!
Being okay with “okay” is NOT OKAY.
Only when we strive for better and admire our faults do we realize that we didn’t scratch that itch. We only let our skin go numb to it.
Written by: Michael “Bboy Roach1” Roach