Do you sense that God is asking you to step into something new—a new job, relationship, ministry, or place—but the thought of it paralyses you? Or maybe you feel a nudging to share the gospel with a friend or relative, or to reconcile with a family member, but imagining the trouble of going through gives you pause.
Most of us love being in our “comfort zone”—the default place we go to “minimise stress and anxiety”. It’s familiar and safe—but if we stay there too long, over time we become lazy, complacent, and inflexible. And most importantly, it could give us a false sense of security and hinder us from growing in trust and obedience to God.
Stepping out of our comfort zone doesn’t always mean making radical changes, taking risks, or doing different things just for the sake of it. It’s about stepping out—whether in small or big ways—so that we grow in our relationship with Christ and make an impact for Him in our lives.
Ready to move out of the familiar? Here are some steps to get you started:
1. Be clear about what is holding you back
Is it the discomfort of uncertainty? Or fear of failure? Or could it be laziness? Taking a long, hard look at why we hesitate or think twice about attempting something new can reveal a lot about our insecurities.
Sometimes, the fear could be legitimate, where stepping out of our comfort zone might cost us everything. Think of Queen Esther and the risk she took (she could have lost her life!) by approaching the king to plead with him for her people’s lives (Esther 4:7-17). But she committed her life to God and approached the king in faith, and God honoured her obedience by rescuing them.
Most of the time, though, the things holding us back don’t involve such serious repercussions. Remember Moses and his fear of public speaking (Exodus 4:10-17)? God not only promised to be with him (Exodus 4:12), but assured Moses that his brother, Aaron, would be his mouthpiece. Wouldn’t it have been easier if God had just chosen Aaron in the first place? Clearly, God was insistent on helping Moses get past his insecurities than picking the easier or more logical choice.
Commit those insecurities to the Lord and watch Him provide the resources and strength we need to do what He’s entrusted to us.
2. Recall the times God helped you through a difficult situation
Remember the last time you cried out to God during a trying period and how He saw you through it? Maybe it was a difficult conversation you had to make with your boss, your friend, or even your family. Or when you faced an unfamiliar (and maybe hostile) environment in a new country, school, or workplace where you didn’t know anyone.
Let’s not be like the Israelites who forgot the wonders and miracles that God had performed in leading them out of Egypt (Psalm 78:11-12). Take time to recount His goodness and remind yourself that He will help you through the challenge before you just as He did before.
If it helps, write down each of those moments in a journal or record them in your phone so that you can look back and draw strength and courage from God’s marvellous deeds in your life.
Remembering God’s faithfulness and deliverance through difficult periods gives us the confidence that He will be with us every step of the way.
3. Look up to God and see the bigger picture
Perhaps you feel inadequate for what God has called you to, or feel that the task or assignment is too big for you. Remember Joshua and Caleb—the only two spies out of 12–who expressed confidence that God would give them the land of Canaan despite having seen the towering presence of the locals (Num 13:25-14:9)?
Way earlier than that, we saw how Abraham responded to God’s call to uproot his whole family at the age of 75 and leave the comfort of his home to travel to a foreign land (Gen 12:1-6).
Would we, like Abraham, Joshua and Caleb, go in faith because we trust in God’s promises, that as we carry out His work, He will always be with us “to the end of the age” (Matt 28:19-20), and that in Him “[we] will find rest for [our] souls” (Matt 11:28-29)?
Looking beyond our immediate circumstances and clinging to God’s bigger promises gives us the courage to go forth into the unknown.
4. Accept the fact that you will be scared . . . and you will fail
Doing something new is scary, and we could fail. But it’s okay.
We cannot completely avoid disappointments and failure in life. What we can do is learn from our experiences and mistakes, and not let these things cripple us from moving forward and trying again. Most of all, we can take comfort in the fact that as God’s chosen people, He will direct our steps. Even when we stumble, He ensures that we will not fall (Psalm 37:23-24).
Moses is a good example. Though he was hand-picked by God to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, he still made significant blunders along the way—breaking the first set of tablets in his anger against the Israelites’ sin and striking the rock when God explicitly told him to speak to it. And he paid for the latter mistake when he was not allowed to enter the physical promised land: Canaan.
Yet, he was not disqualified from the eternal promised land, and was still considered as one of the greatest prophets of all time, through whom God showed His amazing signs and wonders (Deut 34:10-12).
Learning to accept failure removes the burden of having to get things “right” the first time, and teaches us to depend on Christ.
5. Start small—do something that leads you towards the end goal
Now that we’ve committed our insecurities to God, recounted how He has helped us in the past, recalled His promises, and accepted that failure is okay, it’s time to get moving.
But when’s the “right time” to take the plunge? Well, if we take a leaf out of the preacher’s book (Ecclesiastes 11:1-10), we might end up doing nothing if we’re waiting around for the “perfect timing”. Instead, we should use what we have to do what we can, and let God take care of the results in His time (vv. 5-6).
Here are some ways we can take small steps out of our comfort zone in the various aspects of our lives:
Personal: Make changes to our daily routine that will help us grow in our relationship with God.
- Wake up 30 minutes earlier every day to pray or read one chapter in the Bible.
- Have a “No Netflix/YouTube/social media” day once a week and read a good Christian book instead.
Family: Resolve to do something nice to serve our family members every so often.
- Make time to help out in the household chores.
- Set aside one or two days a week to eat with the family.
Friends: Take practical actions to see to our friends’ needs.
- Message one friend every day to ask them how they are doing.
- Run errands for friends in need (young parents, caregivers with elderly parents, friends who are sick).
Church: Actively consider how we can build up the body of believers.
- Pick a ministry to serve in and be open to try new things.
- Take time to affirm and encourage those who are serving, and pray for them.
Work: Look for opportunities to be ambassadors for Christ to our colleagues.
- Seize opportunities to show care: buy them a meal, lend them an ear, invite them to events, pray for them through tough times, share your journey of faith.
Don’t wait for the “perfect time”. Instead, take every opportunity to sow diligently and leave the outcome in God’s hands.
As humans, it’s normal to feel fear and anxiety in unfamiliar situations, but it’s never too late to “get out there” and let God show us how much bigger He is than our perception of Him.
Ultimately, our comfort lies in knowing that the God we serve is far more reliable and fail-safe than any comfort zone we may have.