Out of the comfort zone

I was listening to a young person recently talking about an aspect of worship regarding a hypothetical role of women in leadership. This individual suggested that “people need to get out of their comfort zones.”

I thought: “You want to get out of your comfort zone? Commit to five years mission work in Papua New Guinea. Work in a community shelter in Chicago, Illinois.”

But fudging on God’s instructions is not the place to “get people out of their comfort zones.” (I’m not even sure where this idea that getting people out of their comfort zones has been proven to be beneficial. Is this some area of human behavior I am unaware of that has been demonstrated to have psychological benefits?). I have noticed that it is rarely the speaker who offers to move out of his/her comfort zone; Instead, he/she wants to force friends and colleagues to do so.

I am certain the individual speaking was neither a behavioral therapist nor a biblical scholar.

God’s instructions on the role of women in worship is, as the young people like to say, “a thing” (1 Corinthians 14:34,35; 1 Timothy 2:10,11). As Christians, we need to grapple with it, not ignore it, ask where it applies, not brush it aside.

John urges us “not to go ahead” and “not abide in the teachings of Christ” (2 John 1:9). Jesus calls on us to leave “father and mother,” to “take up our cross, and follow him” (Matthew 10:36,37).

Please note this: Following Jesus’ teachings is the most challenging thing you will ever do. His word will challenge you, change you, and without question take you out of your comfort zone. And as for getting people “out of their comfort zones”? I hope we are always uncomfortable with going outside the lines of God’s word.

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Stan Mitchell

Stan has preached since 1976, in Zimbabwe, California, Texas and Tennessee. He serves as preacher for the Red Walnut Church of Christ in Bath Springs, TN. He is currently Professor of Bible at Freed-Hardeman University. He is married to the former Marjorie McCarthy, and has one daughter, Tracy Watts. He is the author of four books: The Wise Get Wiser, the Foolish More Foolish: The Book of Proverbs, Give the Winds a Mighty Voice: Our Worship in Song, and Equipping the Saints for Ministry. He has recently published another book, "Will Our Faith Have Children: Developing Leadership in the Church for the Next Generation.

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