Out of Your Comfort Zone


Doug Drake, Ast. Scoutmaster, Troop 74

Feb. 9, 2020

Scout Sunday


Many of you saw the signs on the edge of the pews requesting that you sit alphabetically rather than wherever you might normally sit. How does it feel to be sitting in a different spot? A little unnerving? A little uncomfortable? It’s supposed to make you feel that way. We are creatures of habit and have been groomed that way since we were very young. Prior to the service, a parishioner asked me why she had to sit where she was sitting as she was not where she was where she was supposed to be. I asked her why she needed to know and she said with a grin, “I’m nosey”. I then asked her where she was and she said “church, of course.” To that, I responded, “If you are in church, then that is where you are supposed to be. Does it really matter where you are sitting in the church?” She nodded in agreement and said coyly, “This probably has something to do with your sermon.” “Maybe I said, and walked away.”

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all of your ways, acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

Thank you again for joining us today. It means a lot to not only the Scouts, but all involved with the program to see the support this church; this family continues to offer.

I wonder, and I am not going to do it, but if I were to walk amongst the congregation and randomly select one or two of you to come up and speak in front of the group, without any preparation, how many could ABSOLUTELY NOT comply… mentally, physically could not do it?

No judgement, not trying to embarrass anyone, but if you could raise your hand, that would be great. (wait) That’s a whole lot of you. Thanks for responding. Remember, I’m not going to do it. Today anyhow.

Being able or willing to jump into a request like that obviously would put many of you immediately out of your comfort zone. It was a created scenario, but one to which you could relate.

So how would you describe a comfort zone?

(wrap self in blanket)

I’d describe it as those places, those situations where a person feels comfortable, safe, and free from threat or challenges – real or imagined. It is a thoroughly comfortable place that is marked by ease and familiarity. We generally prefer to be in our comfort zone. We naturally enjoy that warm fuzzy blanket wrapped around us. But I think most of us would agree that we cannot stay there indefinitely (remove blanket). We don’t become better, more mature, or even holier by chillin’ in that safe spot doing the same thing day after day. We need to move, to groove, to shake things up sometimes.

Think about this…

When Jesus was looking to form his rag tag bunch of hard-scrabble gentle-hearted, strong-willed followers; He didn’t post signs, He didn’t run ads on the internet, advertise open positions, and schedule interviews. No, he used charisma, and stories, and miracles to aid Him in getting people of diverse backgrounds to follow and believe in Him. His team of 12 consisted of 6 or 7 fishermen (great choice in my eyes as they’re accustomed to working long days and often through the night), 2 businessmen (James and John) who hired other fishermen to work for them, siblings, a son of a king (Bartholomew also known as Nathaniel), a tax collector – who basically extorted money from travelers, and a zealot. Now, a zealot is not really a profession. He was someone who was engaged in politics and anarchy with the hopes of instigating a revolution to over through the Roman government. I dunno, to me, he seems like someone who might be able to maneuver through the system, maybe have some contacts they could use? But as a disciple, he took that same energy and commitment and focused it on Jesus. That’s a powerful ally! How much comfort do you think this team initially had in their new jobs/roles as Disciples when they began their evangelistic journey with Jesus? I’m guessing, they were WAAAY way out of their “zones”.

So, is getting out of your comfort zone a good thing? It kinda depends on who you ask. Like most things, one study says yes and another says no. Similar to when a lawyer brings an “expert” to the stand. Both prosecutor and defendant can find experts to back up their point of view. So is anybody really an expert?

Being told to get out of your comfort zone, try something new, or take that leap of faith are some of the most prevalent self-help advice that you can find. Friends and family will suggest it if you’re in the slumps. Paid advisors will recommend it and authors will write books on how to do it.  Generally, this advice comes from people who have successfully stepped out of their comfort zone. But, it’s also a pretty easy mantra to just throw out there. The idea is not a singular story though. We are all very different and have been molded by our life experiences. So our aversion to risk, change, or challenges will also be different.

Fear comes into play here.

But F.E.A.R. is just False Evidence Appearing Real.

It is what YOU make it.  You can hide from it, or you can face it head on. Whereas, true fear is based on a threat or impending danger – it’s a natural response and is set up to protect us, anxiety is based on a perceived threat or danger. Therefore, to me, being afraid to get out of your comfort zone is more of a nervousness or anxiety than it is fear. However, if a fear about a situation, living creature, place, or object becomes extreme or irrational, then you could have a phobia. That’s a whole different story. So, I ask you, is anyone willing to share something that takes you out of your comfort zone? (wait a moment to see if there are any responses)

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

Andy Molinsky is an author and professor of organizational behavior at Brandeis University’s International Business School. Molinsky says that there are three “zones” when it comes to comfort.

The first is your comfort zone, where you’re in a familiar situation and are experiencing very little anxiety.

A “stretch” zone is when you’re experiencing some level of anxiety, but at a point where you can turn it into motivation and fuel for productivity.

“When the threshold overtakes your capacity to handle it,” Molinsky says, “that would be your panic zone.”

Molinsky stresses that the “optimal” level of discomfort is in your stretch zone. In order to get there, “you want to be thoughtful in terms of choosing such a stretch zone.” That requires setting yourself up to ensure that you have the time and energy that you need.” Remember the story of Goldilocks? One bed was too soft (your comfort zone) , one bed was too hard (your panic zone) and the last bed was just right (your stretch zone or sweet spot).

Two questions you should ask before moving out of your comfort zone:

  1. Am I prepared enough, and
  2. Is it the right time?

You may want to do the behavior or learn the skill, but are you ready for whatever the consequences are? As Jack Nicholson’s character, Colonel Jessep in A Few Good Men said,  “You Can’t Handle the Truth”. (play recording) If you can’t handle the consequences, if you can’t handle the truth, than maybe the time is not right. Jesus is the Truth. Can you handle it?

It’s important to understand that “comfort zone” is a subjective concept. There are various factors that determine it, including one’s personality and tolerance to stress and/or. An introvert, for example, might find the idea of going to a networking event much more daunting than an extrovert. Someone who is naturally athletic might be much more comfortable with the idea of running an ultra-marathon than someone who is not.

MedlinePlus.gov describes stress as “A feeling of emotional or physical tension. It can come from any event or thought that makes you feel frustrated, angry, or nervous. Stress is your body’s reaction to a challenge or demand. In short bursts, stress can be positive, such as when it helps you avoid danger or meet a deadline. But, when stress lasts for a long time, it may harm your health.”

The same holds true for being out of your comfort zone. I feel that I have a very wide and deep berth when it comes to my zone. There’s not a lot I won’t try. I have skydived, swam with sharks, white water rafted, owned businesses, been married & divorced, raised two great kids, and am getting married again. THANK YOU PAULA PETERS!  Over-all, I’m very comfortable in my own skin, not easily flustered, generally roll with the changes and love to seek adventure. I am admittedly, last-minute-deadline driven and strive to perform to the best of my abilities. I am exacting in certain things and lackadaisical in others. As the saying goes, I often find myself in the realm of “If it weren’t for the last minute, nothing would get done.” And yes, to those who know me, I did make adjustments to today’s sermon this morning. While pushing the limit usually works for me, I understand how it could force others out of their comfort zone. When my standard methods are not working for me, it’s very obvious.

Humans respond to stressors differently, so it’s possible that what one considers to be their “comfort” zone might be another’s “stretch” and yet another’s “panic zone”. According to psychology professor Art Markman, the key to understanding your comfort zone is knowing how your mind works. Through adaptation and practice we can change where our “sweet spot” falls, you simply need to get to know yourself: Are you someone able to get a lot done without much prompting, or do you need lots of help to energize yourself before getting down to a task or a challenge? Are you an adrenaline junky who needs a daily experiential “high” to get through the day? Are you willing to try new things? Or do you treasure your routines?

Stepping out of your comfort zone is different for everyone. It takes strength, courage, faith, commitment, trust (in yourself and others), and mental fortitude to get out of your own way and begin. There’s going to be some discomfort. Push away those demons. It’s part of the process. If you choose to leave your comfort zone, you need to respect yourself and others. You need to trust that you can successfully navigate among the unknown. You need to go to that scary place where the Boogey Man still hides under your bed. The point of stepping out of your comfort zone, should be to embrace new experiences and get to that state of optimal anxiety – the stretch – in a controlled, managed way that does not stress you out. Take time to reflect on your experiences so you can reap the benefits and apply them to your day to day activities. If you always live outside your comfort zone and never regroup to reflect on the new experiences, you run the risk of the new and interesting becoming commonplace  and boring.  It’s a phenomenon called hedonistic adaptation  – the incredible becomes ordinary after a very short time. Because we have 24/7 access to the greatest repository of human knowledge ever created, the Internet, we get bored and are continually looking for faster and faster access. In one way, it drives us forward, but in others, it keeps us from appreciating the subtle and everydayness that surrounds us.  The world is revolving around us at warp speed and throwing curve balls at us every day.  Learning to live out of our comfort zone when we choose to helps to prepare us for life changes that force us out of it.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

In our earlier readings, we learned of Moses who was asked by God numerous times to step out of his comfort zone for God. Whenever Moses objected, God had a response to help Moses make up his mind to do what was asked. Moses was afraid of failing and basically said, “Wait. What? Who me? No, no, no I think you have the wrong person, you should probably pick someone else. Who’s going to listen to or believe me? I’m, I’m just a regular guy.” God converted Moses’ staff into a snake (and Moses ran from it). The Lord gave Moses numerous tools to help him convince others to believe. When Moses said that he was not eloquent, but rather slow of speech and tongue God said, I made your mouth. I will be there to help guide you.

We also learned of Noah who, through faith, saved himself and his family from impending doom. God told Noah that a great flood was coming that would wipeout all mankind. He was to build an ark and gather 2 of each animal so they would be ready for the storm. Noah tried for many years to try and warn people of the coming storm, but they mocked him and scorned him. How comfortable was that?

The Bible is full of stories about people with whom God asked to get out of their comfort zones in order to do something that would both honor and glorify Him.

  • Abraham was commanded sacrifice his eldest son Isaac on an altar.
  • David volunteered to fight Goliath.
  • Mary and Joseph were asked to give birth to and raise Jesus. Who in their right mind would “volunteer” for that challenge?


The Bible is all about change. We are called to change who we are in submission to Jesus. When we do that, we often have to step out of our comfort zone. Remember you cannot serve two masters (Matthew 6:24). In this reference, you cannot serve both your comfort zone and the Lord’s will.

Jesus could get people who challenged Him out of their comfort zones just by being who He was. He spoke in parables to prove His points. He lived as He preached. He consistently chose to hang around with adulterous, physically ill, criminal, and basically the undesirables of His time. Doing so, puts others “on edge”. He welcomed everyone, treated them well and turned them all into instruments of His teachings.

Jesus preached with a group of “ordinary” men, His Disciples. He armed them only with His own power and authority. As long as they relied on His strength, they were unstoppable. In Mark 16:20, we are told, “They went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it”.

God selected people to assist Him in doing his good works. Many of the Chosen or as we say today, Voluntold, had no inclination or desire to be part of this grand plan. They were afraid. They were uncomfortable in taking on these challenges. But, they were guided by The Lord so as to be successful. When asked to step out of our comfort, who are we to say no? Instead of saying, “Why me?” what if we responded with “Why not me?” Matthew 19:26, “With God, everything is possible.”

Illustration. Have you ever had workers come in to paint a few rooms in the house? No big deal, right. But the more the rooms are draped with drop cloths and the furniture moves from one room to the next, the more uncomfortable the situation becomes, the more you are pushed out of your comfort zone, your safe place, your routines. It becomes annoying. Having guests in your home creates a similar situation. It’s fun at first, but after a few days, you want your space back. My father-in-law used to say that guests are like fish, after a few days they all smell.

I challenge you to step out of your comfort zone!

Give up your fears that you will be unsuccessful. Don’t worry about what others might think.

  • Do everyday things differently, maybe take a different route to work.
  • Try a new food.
  • If you regularly watch CNN, watch Fox or vice versa.
  • Hang out with someone different than you.
  • Go to a movie by yourself.
  • Sing karaoke.
  • Dance in the aisle at the supermarket.
  • Take an online class or learn a new language.
  • Wait a minute, what if you genuinely reached to the new person in your church, neighborhood, or work, sincerely introduced yourself, made them feel welcome, and actually got to know them. That’s a tough one sometimes…

Get out of your rut, the ultimate comfort zone. The place you stay until you either die or decide to get out of.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9


Dear Lord,

Stepping out of our comfort zone is not easy. In fact, as you know, many times it’s extremely difficult. We like to keep to ourselves, to be comfortable. Yet, sometimes you ask us to step out of our comfort zone and we desire to be faithful. We want to trust that you will equip us to do all you have called us to do, but it requires that we lean on you more than ever. So, we come before you now and ask for your help. Be our guide, our strength, and our source of joy. Help us to do all that you have called us to do…and when we do…we will praise You. For we know that it was only by the power of Your Holy Spirit that we were able to succeed. Thank you, Lord for loving us and helping us to grow into the people you desire us to be. In Jesus name, Amen.

Now may the Great Master of all Scouts, our awesome God, be with us ‘til we meet again. Go in peace and may the Lord be kind and gracious to you.



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