First Things First: Breaking Out From Comfort Zones
I’ve been waiting for this moment. And now it’s here. I have finally given a message and written an article that addresses the youth. I’ve seen much potential in the youth. So I plan to write more on this matter. Anyway…
1 Timothy 4:12
12Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.
Timothy was a young pastor at the church in Ephesus. Paul urged him not to let the older people despise him because of his age, but rather set them an example of living.
I have two observations in this verse:
1. The youth can be despised. Words such as disrespect, rebellion, conformity to peer pressure, indifference to serious issues, and fixation on fun are often associated to the youth. Thus, older people have low expectations of them.
2. God calls the youth to a radical shift of mindset—setting an example even to older people. This is unusual. Adults should set the pattern for living to the younger people. But this time, it’s the other way around.
I want to communicate a simple message: God has called the youth to break out from low expectations and do great things for Him.
But if we want to do these, we need to do first things first. We need to break out from our comfort zones.
Lawrence and His Comfort Zone
Imagine a man named Lawrence. When he was 16, he thought of taking an entrance exam in the premiere university in the country. Being good in math and physics, he decided to take the electronics and communications engineering program. But he thought to himself that he couldn’t pass the exam. So he didn’t try at all.
At age 18, he was asked to audition for the church band. He took guitar lessons before and was pretty good at it. But he thought that someone else was better than him. Again, he let the opportunity slip away.
And at age 19, his small group leader in his church asked him to take a leadership role in the youth ministry. But he was more comfortable in being led than being the one who leads. He refused such offer.
At this point, we can say that Lawrence has not encountered failures. But he also hasn’t done anything at all! He chose to stay within the confines of his comfort zone. He chose the path that is void of failure and discomfort, but also one that is void of significance, achievements, and personal growth. He may not have “failed” in some possible endeavors, but not doing anything at all is his very failure.
Mindsets that Hinder
Before anything else, I just want to establish what comfort zones are. Comfort zones are the areas in our lives where the thought of leaving it produces fears and discomfort in us.
There are a number of factors that avoid us to step out our comfort zones. But I just want to discuss two mindsets that hinder us:
1. I Am Weak and Limited. I remember the Bible story when God spoke to Moses through a burning bush. God was sending him in a mission to free the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. Moses had a struggle grasping this mission. In Exodus 4:10, he was excusing himself by being ineloquent and slow of speech and tongue. Public speaking is his weakness. He thought that someone like him was unfit for the God’s mission. He focused on his weakness. But in verse 12, God told him that he will help him speak and teach him what to say.
One of my weaknesses is relating with people. I am a reserved person, naturally an introvert. I have this mindset that I will not mind a person’s business until he minds mine. But in leadership and ministry, relating with people is essential. So I asked God to work through my weakness. By His grace, I was blessed with deep friendships. I treasure my close friends because it took me a lot to build and maintain them. It took me a big leap out of my comfort zone. It required me enormous amounts of time and effort. I overcame my weakness because of God.
I am reminded of God’s word to Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:9: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” God works through our weaknesses.
What are the weaknesses that hinder you from breaking out from your comfort zones?
2. I Am Afraid. In Matthew 14:22-33, we are told of the story when Jesus walked on water. Later, Peter tried doing the same thing, while the 11 other disciples stayed at the boat. He didn’t let fear take over him (but I assume the eleven are afraid). Everything was fine until he noticed the wind. He lost focus and was distracted. He began to sink.
Was Peter a failure? Most people would answer yes. But if he were, then what do you call the 11 disciples who chose to stay in the boat—their comfort zone?
For me Peter was not a failure; the eleven are. At least he tried to do the unthinkable; the eleven didn’t. He got to practice faith in his Master; the eleven didn’t. He got to experience the rescuing hand of Jesus; and again, the eleven didn’t.
Failing to please others used to be my fear (though up to now, it sometimes bothers me). It hurts me every time I fail them. There was a point in my life where I thought that there’s no way I can meet the expectations of my ministry mates. I thought that nothing that I do would delight them. So I limited myself and deprived myself of my potential. I settled with teaching responsibilities when I know that I can fill leadership roles, which God clearly wants me to do. But I was reminded that I shouldn’t live to please them. Rather, I should please God alone.
God is faithful in spite of our fears and failures. Just as He was faithful to Peter when he rescued him, he will be faithful to us.
What are your fears that hinder you from breaking out from your comfort zones?
Again, God has called the youth to break out from low expectations and do great things for Him.
But first things first—We need to break out from our comfort zones!