A couple weeks ago I was able to attend the YS Unconference. It was a good day of connecting with local youth pastors and to have some time to talk in small group settings. One of the sessions I was a part of talked about fringe students and students that show up a couple times to youth group and then you never see them again. As frustrations were discussed, I asked the group what would happen if we raised up some students in leadership to be on the lookout for those “wallflower” students and make sure they knew there was a place for them in the group. I just got to thinking what outreach and discipleship would look like if we really empowered our students and encouraged them to be leaders. How would our student ministries be transformed if we took the time to challenge our students to step out of their comfort zones?
Rewind many years earlier. (HA!) I was a high school freshman, getting ready for a fun evening outing with my youth group friends. I was looking forward to hanging with my friends for a night. I was also a typical high school girl; wanting to fit in, hang with the older kids and dealing with typical insecurities. I had it set in my mind how the night would look.
Then, I got to the church parking lot and I was introduced to a new girl who had never been around before. I had no desire to reach out to some stranger and be friends. I am a SHY, introverted person. I like my routine and my people. It was totally my intention to blow off this new interaction for the comfort of my friends. Then, my youth pastor pulled another girl and I aside and encouraged us to get to know this new person and make her feel welcome. Relectently, I stepped out of my comfort zone.
That act of seeing beyond myself (as much as I fought it) led me to a friendship that has lasted over 20 years. I can’t imagine the many years of memories I would have missed out on if I had not been encouraged to look beyond myself and if I hadn’t accepted the challenge to do something that wasn’t a part of my character. I am so thankful for a youth pastor that consistently challenged me to grow and become the person I was meant to be.
Comfort zones are meant to be pushed. It is when we push beyond ourselves that the course of life can change. Be on the lookout for those situations that may be uncomfortable but you know are necessary to be a part of.
When was the last time you stepped out of your comfort zone?