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.