“Nathan, I'll tell you more than I know!”
In typical Grandpa fashion, my Papa is never short on stories to tell. Amidst the tales of hitchhiking across the state of Illinois to college and wooing & marrying the secretary on his army base in France, one nugget of wisdom stands out:
“Don’t think of something new and different as being outside your comfort zone; think of it as expanding your comfort zone.”
That is perhaps the most helpful piece of advice I have ever received.
I’m very much a stay-inside-my-comfort-zone kind of person, and I often lament the fact that my microscopic comfort zone keeps me from using the gifts God has given me. I need to be reminded that something new does not need to be scary and overwhelming, but it can expand my comfort zone if I have the right attitude.
I am writing this to myself because I need to be reminded of it consistently. But I also want to share it with you in case you experience the same tension I do between wanting to answer God’s call and not feeling equipped or comfortable.
Six months ago, this introvert did not expect occasionally speaking from the stage to be part of his ministry at Grace. And, yet, that is where I have found myself several times in recent weeks. Each time, in the moments before climbing those stairs, I nervously think 'Why did I agree to this...?' And then, as soon as it is over, I am able to thank God for giving me the strength to step out in faith and praise Him for speaking despite my weakness.
As I look back on these last six months, I can see how God was using a series of experiences and a truth-speaking support group to prepare me for this new development in my ministry. By nudging me outside my comfort zone and using people to encourage me along the way, God is expanding my comfort zone and building in me confidence. From now on, it is my prayer that in future ministry opportunities I remember how God's strength carries me through rather than letting my comfort-zone-seeking self shrink away.
So now I encourage you to do the same – to look back on the last six months and pray about how God might be using experiences and people to equip you with unique gifts and call you to serve according to unique passions. And as opportunities arise, don't get stuck in comfort zone paralysis, but step out in faith that God will give you strength.
Last Sunday, Pastor Jack gave us a simple, practical spiritual gifts test: however you love to meet the needs that you see, that is probably your spiritual gift.
So, what needs do you see? What makes you excited as you think about meeting those needs? How is God calling you to expand your comfort zone in order to use your gifts to serve His family and to serve your community?
If you are feeling God's prompting to expand your comfort zone and serve but don't know where to begin, this list of ways to serve at Grace or with the community-minded ministries we support is a great place to start: gcc-online.org/engaging-grace.
This Sunday, Pastor Kyle will be preaching to us out of 2 Corinthians 2 and exploring ways we can Engage Grace by serving your community. I hope you will come be equipped, be encouraged, and worship with us!