It was different. It was weird. A couple of times I wanted to leave the group and go searching for people. But I couldn’t; my job was to hold the stick so the group knew where to meet up. I spent last weekend at a conference full of 3,000 teenagers and I was responsible for keeping track of 35 of them. This job usually consists of counting heads over and over as they move around the crowd. This job – this ministry – also involves sharing with them and helping them experience Jesus’ love maybe for the first time. All this surrounded by 2,965 of their new friends.
This time was different because I saw my brother from across the room and I waved. I saw his wife and she came over to chat for a minute. I saw teens I knew and they ran over and hugged me. All the while I held the stick, keeping our group together. How it used to be was all of us together: my wife, my brother, his wife, friends I had known for years; all working with the youth at the church we grew up in. It was like the A-team of youth ministry.
It was comfortable.
Last weekend as I led our group of teens across the conference and gave my brother a high-five as we passed each other I thought, “this is weird, it’s uncomfortable, and it’s good.” I was leading a group of 35 teens whom I didn’t know a month ago, my brother and his wife were leading a group of teens they didn’t know last year, and the teens I worked with last year were there with core members I just met last year. We used to all lead the same group and now we have 3 groups between us and well more than 50 teens. This is the power of uncomfortable. We are not called to minister from our comfort zone. If I really stayed in my comfort zone I wouldn’t have ever started working in youth ministry. The early disciples didn’t travel around comfortably, converting the masses daily.
If we do not challenge ourselves we fall into routine, every day looks the same.
Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect. – Romans 12:2
Do not be comfortable with the world and the way it is, there is no way to slide comfortable into our vocation in life; you have to get uncomfortable. Only by testing ourselves, by making ourselves uncomfortable, do we find out what is the will of God. Praying over your meal in public is uncomfortable, sharing Jesus with a stranger is uncomfortable, defending the faith to an atheist is uncomfortable. What comes to mind is a scene from the 7th Harry Potter movie. Harry and Ron are tired from running around looking for horcruxes and Harry says in anger, “What did you expect? We’d be staying at a 4 star resort? Finding a horcrux every other day?” We should not expect things of great importance to be easy and comfortable.
God doesn’t promise easy, or comfortable.
For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. – John 3:16
But what He does promise is worth it.
But as it is written: “What eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, and what has not entered the human heart, what God has prepared for those who love him,” – 1 Corinthians 2:9
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