I’ve written about being in over your head before and how that’s an excellent place to be. I was reminded of this again this past week as I stumbled upon two things. One was a post by Michael Hyatt called “Why frequent trips outside of your comfort zone are so important.” The other was a non-published post I found in my Evernote that was probably meant for my journal but I must have forgotten it somewhere. In this little journal entry I wrote about being nervous and stressed for the following semester. As I was trying to place myself back in December 2010, I realized I couldn’t even remember what I thought was the stressful and intimidating thing of that winter semester.
How often do we worry or let ourselves feel overly intimidated by a big task or a change in position? How often do we act in fear instead of jumping in to the thing that is way out of our comfort zone?
It’s funny for me to think back to that time and realize I honestly have no recollection of that semester and what I might have been worried about. Sure, I did end up planning a wedding and go into leading my first project ever in a language I was barely functional in, but when I consider all the other things I’ve done since and how that whole experience grew me to be in the place I’m in now… it’s barely a blip on my radar.
Next week we have our Quebec huddle and it’s the first thing I’ll be doing as the Francophone Team Lead in our city. Intimidating, yet exhilarating. This is probably why I don’t run… my job is thrilling enough, I already have endorphins running through my body as I’m contemplating the fact that I can’t believe I’m in this place right now doing what I’m doing.
All this to say: get out of your comfort zone. If you’re a leader, lead your people out of their comfort zone. Stretch them.
Here are a few articles I’ve read recently that have been helpful.
“I should have been killed at that time. I still believe that. But I am thankful that the RCMP didn’t.” – Vince Li.
After reading this quote in this article I couldn’t help but feeling like Mr. Li understands the gospel in a way that I (hopefully?) never will. He understands that before both God and man he owes his life. He also understands he has an illness that, left untreated, could lead him to become fearful and paranoid enough to murder again.
How many of us have actually come to the same realization? We have a grave illness called sin, we also have the “medication” in Jesus. If we stay connected to the Vine as Jesus speaks about in John 15 we can be sure we will stay near enough to the Lord to be able to discipher His voice from Society and from the Enemy of our souls.
I have never heard delusional voices, but I have believed lies that originate in questions and doubts in my own mind. When we are separated from scripture and prayer for long enough, we have an increasingly difficult time understanding what is the voice of God and Truth. Later in the article Mr Li notes that “God wouldn’t tell me to do something bad.” He understands that God would not command him to do anything that contradicts scripture.
Reading this article and reflecting on these truths was a disturbing, sobering, yet incredibly meaningful devotional for me today. I hope I am able to continue to remember that small choices every day can compound into an extremely distructful end if we are not careful.
I cannot imagine the pain and regret Mr. Li feels, now being lucid enough to understand. I trust God will glorify himself in this situation and we will see redemption in this story.
Two weeks after I posted that post, I remembered: God usually comes through for me at the 13th hour, not the 11th. He came through for me in that issue that I was so deeply disappointed about. I’ve learned this lesson before, but it’s been awhile and I forgot. Looking back, I’m annoyed at myself that I let myself get disappointed too soon.
Sometimes I’m clinging onto a prayer and I need to remember that he will come and intervene after I think my energy is totally spent. He always comes, but usually later than I feel I can bear it. He is faithful and we should never forget that. Even if it seems “too late,” He never is.
A few weeks ago I met up with my coworker Erika who over the past few years has had great success in engaging with students, building relationships with them and leading them to christ in a way they want to stick around. This is something that I have not really had the privilege of experiencing. All of the people I’ve led to christ never want to meet up for follow-up. So we meet up so I could pick her brain about evangelism and she had some questions to ask me about discipleship – the last few years both of us had been in situations where we did lots of one and less of the other.
“So how do you do it?” I asked
“I just got so frustrated when no one would meet up with me and no one would hang out and I had a whole week of time to fill and no one to disciple. I got so desperate I decided I’d do anything for a second appointment.”
As we talked about this further it sounded like a good idea. Willy and I decided that we wanted this semester at UQAM to be characterized by doing anything to get a second appointment as we figure out engagement and what works for us personally.
It’s a hard thing to wrestle with as we don’t want to seem like we’re doing a bait-and-switch with people, suddenly bringing up Jesus after we’ve hung out a few times and them having no clue what P2C is about. We want to be clear about who we are, yet fun and engaging enough for people to want to hang out with us and not think we’re too serious or boring. For girls it may be an easier thing to get a second meeting: bubble tea, coffee ‘date’, shopping, whatever… Guys maybe not so much. Go for a beer? Wings? Poutine & beer? Pick-up hockey?
This is the question we’re figuring out. How do we get a second appointment (in French)? I put the “in French” in there because, honestly, we’re limited in our communication. We can’t nuance things in the way we would in English. This was painfully clear to me today as I was sharing with students, doing Solarium & questionnaires and finding myself catching 80% of what was being said, but knowing that last 20% could help me ask good questions… and that’s my next challenge. Forming a good, challenging, thought-provoking question that demonstrates care. I can do that in English no problem.
As we had successes and failures on campus today I am encouraged by the fact that one day, like Erika, I’ll figure out what works and I’ll be able to communicate it with skill to these québécois students. One day.
Since my last post, lots of changes have happened in my life personally (my first date all the way to getting married) as well as in my job. This semester we’re trying a lot of new things and I decided to bring the work-blog back. This time with a new member: my husband.
This past staff conference Andy (my metro team director) and I were asked to video record our “myCravings” testimony for the Everyone Has a Story campaign that will be running this year. If you’re unfamiliar with a myCravings testimony, basically it’s a testimony that is from the angle that each person has a driving force, a deep craving that defines them and deeply impacts the choices they make. Some crave justice, intimacy, meaning, destiny or other variations (these being the typical ones). The testimony focuses on how Jesus was the only way to deal with these “soul” cravings & how our lives were before & after.
Now you need to know this about me: I have typically tried to avoid sharing my testimony because the whole thing is pretty convoluted. When someone grows up in a Christian home and has essentially always followed Jesus, it’s pretty hard to explain the process of feeling confirmed this is the right decision as we grow in adulthood & maturity. Mine was even more complicated by significant events that, until the last 3 years, I dared not share with anyone.
So as Andy was sharing with our team the importance of a “myCravings” testimony this morning, he said this:
“Usually our testimonies sound something like this: ‘I used to generally sin, had general problems and I’ve found a general solution and my life is now generally better.’ Whenever we share our testimony, we’re essentially trying to fit our story into some sort of container. When I tried to fit it into this container, I realized I was sharing a story in a way that was actually the most true to my story & my life.”
I couldn’t help but nod in agreement. Going through this process of examining myself and my life and trying to understand what my own cravings were, I actually came to understand myself in a way I really hadn’t before. It occurred to me just how much my decisions are still impacted by this craving I have for safety & protection, that it impacts my life on a conscious and subconscious level even after Christ. It’s a big deal.
Why am I sharing this with you? I guess for one, both Andy and I saw this process as significant enough in our lives to share and was pretty important as well for us in finding what they refer to as a Dangerous Testimony in the Bursting Your Bubble training. As he pointed out, my testimony – when I tell it the right way – is a Dangerous Testimony. It freaks me out to be that honest with people, heck, to be that honest with myself. But realistically, how can we ask people to share their fears of taking the plunge into a life with Jesus, or share with us their very personal thoughts on God and spirituality if we’re not willing to even be honest with ourselves about what our own insecurities are, the ones that still drive us when we’re carnal. No, we don’t need to be obscene, but I think if you’re anything like me – you’re trying to fit your story into a neat category like “meaning” when it might be a related but more specifically “power” or honed in even further as “safety.” When we try to be neat with our testimony, we may just be short-changing our testimony and the person we’re sharing it with because they can sense our lack of sincerity.
So I guess my point is this: I’d strongly encourage you to spend some time investigating what your cravings testimony is and working out a few different ways to explain it. It might take some time brainstorming with your spouse, friend, or staff team to find the right way to describe it. Even today I realized that I need to find a better word for “safety” because it doesn’t really explain it right (and is pretty hard say “I found safety in Jesus” when He calls us to live such a radical life & never promises us physical safety).
I’ve heard people recommend Mint.com, a free money management website, for a long time. Unfortunately, until recently you could only sync it with American banks. Mint has gone Canadian, and BOY am I happy. This thing is incredible. I highly recommend it.
You add your bank information, it will import all your accounts with the banks you add. You can also add other finance related accounts that you have. You can create budgets, set goals & it will help you work towards those goals. If you go over budget on an item, it will email you. If you’re using too much credit of on your credit card, it will notify you and give you links on how to manage it, if you have a low balance on your chequing account, it will notify you of that also.
I don’t know where you are on your journey to financial health. If you’re like me and just getting some of these things figured out or you’re working towards a downpayment on a home, saving for a dream vacation, or trying to pay down some debt, I really think this tool is highly useful for all of those things. And no, no one paid me to say this. I wish!
It even has an iPhone app (though at this time, it’s only available in the US iTunes store).