Tuesday, November 27, 2012

I'm Never Coming Out of My Comfort Zone Again

“We have to get out of comfort zones.”

A comfort zone sounds like a great place to be, to me.  When I think of my comfort zones, I think of our bedroom.  I think of my hometown. I think of people with whom I can be real.  I think of our office, with our books, looking at our wall art, and typing on our laptop.  Wikipedia quotes Alasdair White to define “comfort zone” as “an anxiety-neutral condition, using a limited set of behaviours to deliver a steady level of performance.”  While “anxiety-neutral” sounds a little clinical and while it stresses me out to see “behaviors” spelled with a “u,” it still sounds great!

However, comfort zones are often described in negative ways because they are barriers to success. Even when Wikipedia quotes White, these words are added, “usually without a sense of risk.”  There’s the catch.  If we know anything from our exposure to success and leadership books from the last 30 years, we know that there is no growth without risk.  So when those six words end the description of “comfort zone” we get that the comfort zone is no place to be.  At least it is no place to stay.

Usually when I hear the call to “get out of my comfort zone,” I’m listening to someone who is encouraging me to have a spiritual impact on my world.  There are not as many needy people in my comfort zone as I need to serve, so I need to get out of my comfort zone.  The oppressed don’t live in my neighborhood much, so I need to get out of my comfort zone.  I should head to neighborhoods where I am not so comfortable to be serving kingdom style. 

I’ve been considering, though, whether “getting out my comfort zone” is something Jesus would be glad to hear me say I’m doing when I am with the poor, the sick, the oppressed, and the unbeliever.  Jesus was not out of his comfort zone when he was with anybody who needed mercy.  He could be in the home of a Pharisee, a tax collector, or some of his best friends.  He could spend time with a divorcee, an adulterous woman, a governor, a beggar, and a soldier.  And when he is with these people, there is no sense in which Jesus would have said, “I’m glad to get out of my comfort zone to be with these people, but I’ll be glad when I get back to my own comfort zone.”

So I’m never leaving my comfort zone again.  Here’s a start of reasons why.  What would you add?

1.  It would be wrong for me to be uncomfortable around people with whom Jesus would have been comfortable.

2.  I’ve denied it in the past, but I’ll admit that when I’ve been around people and in places outside of my comfort zone, they’ve known it.  I don’t want anybody to feel that I’ll be glad when I can be in my comfort zone – away from them.

3.  I want to be a risk-taker because risk-takers trust in God. Nothing great has been accomplished staying on the comfy couch in the comfort zone.

Monday, November 12, 2012

God Is No Longer My #1 Priority

I’ve removed God from the top of my priority list.  That’s right.  He is off the top of the list of “major concerns of my life.”  He didn’t ever belong there anyway.  It’s way past time for me to make this decision.

Use the best of my time off for him?  No more.

Give him a tenth of my income off the top?  Never again.

Consider him one of my “big rocks?”  No way.

If you want to know what led me to this decision, I’ll tell you.  The decision came from my realization of this truth:  Dead men don’t have priorities.  We don’t have time.  We don’t have money.  We don’t have “big rocks.”

In the context of calling me to set my heart and mind on “things above,” Paul reminds me that I died and that I have been raised with Christ (Col. 3:1-4). 

My new way of living is rooted in my deadness and resurrection with Christ.  Here is why God is no longer my #1 priority:  “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on thiJengs above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.   Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.  When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”

God is not top priority in my life because Christ is my life.  Everything is about him.   All of my priorities are decided based up his desires and purposes.  This is not me living anymore; it is Christ living in me (Gal. 2:20).  When I’m working, Jesus is my life so I pursue his goals there.  When I’m at home my wife and kids see Jesus when they see me.  Whatever I am doing with money, it will reflect holiness because it all belongs to him.  When I’m at play, I’m not wondering when I can give time for the sake of Christ; people will see Jesus in me.

How would your days be different if Christ got moved off your priority list so that you could make him your life?