Monday, January 30, 2006

Thriving Outside Your Comfort Zone

My Pastor was invited to preach at a Vancouver church Sunday morning, so a couple of us were asked to speak. This is what I had to say. It isn’t a transcript. I just typed it up from my notes.

Thriving Outside Your Comfort Zone

We all know that its important to step outside your comfort zone. If you want to reach out, to grow, to gain what you haven’t gained before, you have to be ready to go where you haven’t been before. As Christians, if we want more from life, we have to be ready to get outside our comfort zones. This isn’t new. We all know this. If you haven’t been taught it, I am sure it strikes you as obvious. Common sense.

And God has no qualms about putting you outside your comfort zone. He has always been perfectly happy to challenge His people. In fact, simply by choosing to be raised in Galilee He was challenging people’s preconceptions. When you read the gospels the contempt Judeans had for Galileans jumps off the page. Galilee had a large gentile population, even in the Old Testament it is called ‘Galilee of the Gentiles’ and the religious of Jerusalem refused any fellowship with gentiles. Those Jews who did live and worked among gentiles were unclean. It didn’t matter how religiously observant a Galilean Jew kept himself, he was always suspect. Whenever Jesus spoke the accent people heard was a Galilean’s, and people being people you can be sure many stopped listening the moment they heard it.

This year we have a theme, Light Your World (text: Matthew 5:14). But we aren’t being challenged by others, we need to challenge ourselves. If we are to go where we haven’t gone, if we are to get what we haven’t got, we need to step outside of where we are and into a new place. Now, as a bookseller I am always seeing books – in self-help, business, even in religion – that promise X steps to the new you! So I thought I would come up with ‘7 Steps To Thriving Outside Your Comfort Zone!’ But I only came up with five. Give me time!

Five Steps To Thriving Outside Your Comfort Zone:

1. Think Before You Run

The first thing we do when we’re outside our comfort zone is to run right back into it. It’s a normal, knee jerk reaction, but it doesn’t help. So, when you find yourself in new territory, pause and remind yourself that, even if it isn’t going the way you want it to, it may be going the way He wants it to.

2. Remember WHAT You Are

We are cities built on a hilltop. We are meant to be out there, for all to see. After all, we are saved for His purpose. If what we find ourselves in is a new experience, then we have a great chance at making a first impression. But much of the time we’re not having new experiences. Same job, same neighbours, same friends, same church. We need to look for new answers to old situations; to create new opportunities to make an impression.

3. Remember WHO You Are

What we are is our role in the bigger picture, who we are is someone with a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. That’s important. And not only to us. Out of our bellies should flow rivers of living water. We have to remember that we are not limited by what others think we are, or by what we might fear we are. We are who the Bible says we are.

4. Act

Our faith is made real when we act. We believe God is with us. We know it intellectually. We need to behave as though we believe it. We need to trust God when we find ourselves outside our comfort zones.

5. Focus On The Lord

When we are out there building for His Kingdom, we have to keep our focus on Him and not on the program we are using. Sure the “journey” is important, but the real measure of a journey’s success is whether or not it takes you where you intend to go. Once you’re out there, working outside your comfort zone, don’t be distracted by the details. Our purpose is to be a light in our world.
Well, that’s it. I concluded by encouraging people to do what they need to in order to see what they want to see accomplished this year. January may have gone by quickly, but we’re less than a tenth of the way through 2006. We’ve still a lot of time to accomplish something new. I was encouraged afterwards to keep working on it. To maybe find steps six and seven. And I don’t think that’s a bad idea. Throughout the year, as I try to be that light, I’ll evaluate my progress and develop this further. Push out the boundaries of my comfort zone!

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