Thursday, September 9, 2010

Stepping out of my comfort zone into God's blessing

Last week I shared about how something that my son Daniel had talked about this past January caused me to re-evaluate if I'm using the gitfs and opportunities God's giving me to the fullest. I'd been inspired at that time to step out of my comfort zone and into some opportunities that God kept bringing my way.

If you know me at all, two adjectives that could well describe me are "shy" and "reserved". That's just me. I'm not a person who likes getting up in front of others and being the center of attention. It's a total turn on for me to get to work behind the scenes and bless people when they don't even know about me. I'm one of those people that is sometimes practically invisible, while I notice a lot about others.

A couple of years ago the woman in charge of women's ministries at our church approached me and asked that I be on the women's ministry core leadership team. After praying about it, I accepted. I adore women and enjoy getting to do things to reach out to them both in the church and community. A big part of the team is to pray and receive the vision/direction for what God wants to do for, and through, the women in our local church for the coming year. Then take that vision and plan out the calendar and "events", and do all the stuff required to make these things happen. Planning and administrative type activities come naturally for me. Plus I get to do lots of work that no one ever knows about but that blesses people - just my thing.

But several times, for more than a two year time period, I kept being asked to lead one of the large women's Bible studies that meet at our church. While there are few things that I enjoy more than studying the Word with other women, the idea of being the person who was in front of, or leading a large group, sounded totally unappealing to me. I kept thinking about how anxious I tend to feel in social settings, how tongue tied I get, how I don't at all perceive myself to be a particularly likable, charismatic, or popular type person. So I kept refusing.

But then God used what Daniel shared to make me think about the fact that God obviously doesn't expect me to be a super star (trust me, I have NO super star qualities), but He does want me to be faithful. He also kept bringing the apostle Paul's words from 2 Corinthians 12:10 about how when Paul was weak, then God could be strong, to my mind. It seemed to me that God was speaking to my heart that He wanted to use weak, shy, reserved, me and that because of my weakness it would make me rely more on Him and that way it would be a God-thing instead of a me-thing. So I finally agreed to lead one of the large women's Bible studies at our church.

And you know what? I absolutely loved it!

I know that lots of women from both our church and our community came faithfully. The study was set up so that there was a workbook with homework during the week prior to our meeting. We had a discussion time when we broke into small groups and shared, and I heard women tell about how God was working through His Word and His spirit in their lives during the time between our meetings. God was using the curriculum, His Word, relationships, and circumstances to cause change and growth, and produce faithfulness, in their lives. I never cease to be excited about God working in the lives of women!

A woman who was new to our church made sure to tell me later how comfortable, welcome, included, and accepted she felt. Another woman went out of her way to let me know that she really liked the atmosphere; that she appreciated that we had an agenda and (by the grace of God) didn't constantly go off on "rabbit trails", but at the same time were open to God's work, leading, and ministry to specific women in their lives. She felt like the agenda was never more important than herself of any other woman in the room.

I noticed that between or before meetings, that if I thought about me facilitating the event, I felt that sick oh-I-don't-want-to-be-visually-obviously-up-frontedly-in charge feeling. But if I kept my focus on the individual women in the group,that God kept giving me an intense love for each woman there. I'd find myself thinking about them, praying for them, seeing exciting things that God had in store for them. I got to write them notes during the week, or pray for specific things for them as the Holy Spirit prompted. Then we'd meet and I'd find out why God had me pray, and what He was doing. God was working in their lives, God was ministering to them, God was blessing them - and He let me be part of it!

There's a new women's large group Bible study starting in the end of September, and this time I didn't have to think twice before I agreed to facilitate one of the two times it will be offered. I'm looking forward to what God's gonna do.

What about you, can you think of a time when God seemed to be prompting you to serve in a way that was totally not you, that was outside of your comfort zone? What happened?


Linda Maynard said...

This reminds me of a Bible Study I attended last Spring.
I knew some women, casually and others I didn't know before it started.
By the end of the 12 week study, we had bonded and realized that we had a similar desires to grow in our knowledge of the Word and we held similar concerns about our lives and loved ones.
I am looking forward to meeting with them again.
Years ago, I was President of an International Women's Organization for our State.
For a women who didn't talk for years as a child because she was so shy, it truly was a miracle.
The Lord likened me to Gideon, who like me, said "Wait a minute, I am the least...( my paraphrase)" and who the Lord said about him..." The Lord is with you, mighty warrior"
It is truly amazing of how the Lord sees us and when we say YES, he can blast through our reasonings, excuses and fears.
Thanks for that reminder today

David said...

I continuously live in circumstances in which I am weak. For many years I did the things in church that I was good at, that I was talented at or had a degree in. What I found, like Paul, that none of that education and talent mattered. I now count it all a loss - and the $100K I spent on education.

In 1998 God gave me a word about missions through a prophet. It was exciting, yet very intimidating; working on my fear of flying, fear of countries where I didn't speak the language, fear of losing control or getting sick or arressted so far from home, the impact of time and finances on my family and the just plain unknown. Oh yes, and I was going to be standing on platform in the name of Jesus, and I didn’t have clue as to what I would say, or what I would do.

No thanks, Jesus! Well in 1999 I went on my first trip, and have done 3 more since. It is the most amazing, incredible, and humbling of all my experiences with the Lord.

About the same time I had a strong sense of vision for a school I wanted to do, but there were no opportunities to do it - for 12 years I hung on to that dream - wrote about it, blogged about it, and in January, the first school will be held here in greater Boston!

God is good, faithful, and by His Spirit, He is able to accomplish His destiny for us - well, if we let Him.

Great post, Tracy - I love when God uses our weaknesses to accomplish the work of the Kingdom!