“Leadership is all about taking people on a journey. The challenge is that most of the time, we are asking people to follow us to places we ourselves have never been.”
– Andy Stanley
In our respective leadership circles we hear a lot about stepping out of our comfort zones. “It’s where the magic happens,” we are told. And yet for whatever reason we are reluctant to leave the comforts of what we know and fail to experience all that we could. Sound familiar?
Peter was such person in Scripture that a lot of us can identify with. He was one of the twelve chosen by Jesus to follow Him. That alone is an impressive resume builder. More than that, Peter was one of three (Peter, James, and John) who were really close to Jesus. That made him uniquely special. He was part of the inner circle.
For all of these impressive qualifiers there is also a side to Peter I am more prone to identify with. Peter is very much human- a hot head, one who likes to speak his mind. Jesus had a knack for choosing ordinary people. I like that because it gives me hope. They were a ragtag group of fishermen and a tax collector. A traveling band of brothers. World changers.
In Matthew 14 we read a story where Jesus had his disciples get into a boat and go before Him to the other side of the lake. While making their way to the other side a storm developed and the guys were scared. Get the visual here—they were fishermen by trade. Being in a boat with a developing storm was not new to them. It must have been bad.
In the fourth watch of the night Jesus appeared to them walking on the water. Now they are really afraid. They think they are seeing a ghost. But Jesus speaks to them and tells them not to be afraid (vs.27).
Comfort zones. Think about yours for just a moment. Have you become too comfortable? Have you become too predictable? What is the appeal that keeps you there so that you are not willing to venture out of it? Every possible concern and question Peter faces in this moment are ones you and I can identify with. Let’s explore them.
You will have doubts (vs. 28) “Lord if it is you…”
From the confines of the boat at night during a storm Peter has his doubts. That makes sense. No one is going to fault him on this one. Peter is keeping his cards close to his chest and erring on the side of caution. With his doubts firmly in place, he says to Jesus, “Lord if it is you, command me to come to you.”
As leaders we all have our doubts. What will people think? What will they say about me if I try this and fail? What if I screw things up? How will it make me look to my peers? We can massage our doubts in our comfort zones or we can set them aside and get out of the boat. Either way, we will have doubts just like Peter.
You will be challenged (vs. 29) “So He said, ‘Come’…”
For Peter this falls under the category of “be careful what you ask for”. Peter has really stepped in it this time. Jesus takes him up on his offer and commands him to come to Him. What is Peter going to do? In front of his peers Peter makes this appeal and Jesus calls his bluff. Peter has to act.
All leaders face times of testing and challenges. And when you do there comes a time for talk and there comes a time for action. For Peter, the time to act was at hand. Your comfort zone will either keep you in the boat or you can step into your destiny. It’s all up to you.
You will have fears (vs. 30) “He walked on the water…he was afraid…”
Peter takes Jesus up on His offer to step out of the boat and starts walking. Pretty impressive I must admit. I am not so sure I would have done that in the middle of a storm at night. But when he begins to walk he is distracted by the winds and waves. Ya think? As a result, Peter begins to sink.
As leaders we begin to sink when we take our eyes off the ball – the goal, dream, vision, our mission. When all we see is our fears and all we listen to are the voices telling us why it can’t be done we tend to lose our way. When we take our eyes off Jesus we do the same. I don’t fault Peter for his momentary slip. I admire him. He faced his fears and got out of the boat. What fear is keeping you in your comfort zone?
Here are a few take-aways that are important to remember as a leader:
God knows where you are
That the disciples would be in the boat and a storm would come was not lost on Jesus. He knew. And today He knows right where you are. You might be full of doubts, and fears, – even questioning your own abilities, but this is not about you. It’s about placing your hopes, dreams, and goals into more capable hands than yours and trusting Him to do with it what you can’t.
God knows your struggles
We all have struggles as leaders. We all have our imperfections. We each have our own set of doubts, fears, and questions we wrestle with. He knew about the disciples in the storm and He knows what you are up against. God wants to disrupt your comfort zone and stretch your faith as a leader.
God’s timing is perfect
The disciples had been in the boat battling the storm for a long time. You too might be facing opposition, doubts, and difficulties. You might be on the verge of giving up. Jesus didn’t come to the disciples when they wanted Him to, He came when they needed him the most. It’s when we come of the end of ourselves that God shows up and takes us places we never imagined. How different would your comfort zone look if you invited God into it?
Are you ready to step out of your comfort zone and into your destiny? Take the first step.