5. Will it cause me to stretch and grow?
Spiritual growth often happens in places of fear and discomfort. As a mentor once told me, “If you want to grow, follow your resistance.” This may seem to contradict the earlier point about doing what brings you joy. In the maturing process described in James 1:2–4, however, hardships and challenges are opportunities for joy as we grow to become more like Jesus. It is precisely when we follow Jesus beyond our comfort zones that we know him more deeply, and we’re empowered to serve others in new ways.
When I hear about an opportunity that seems challenging, my first instinct is to say “no.” Just like Moses and other reluctant leaders in the Bible, I list all the reasons why I’m not the person for the job. Yet, when I take time to pray and open it up to the Lord to direct me, these tough assignments are often the most impactful. They expose my sins and weaknesses while providing a space for God to change me. Some activities that fall into this category might be a mission trip, mentoring someone radically different than you, leading a challenging small group, humbly doing something you’ve never done before, speaking publically, sharing your faith with parents at your child’s school, or ministering to the marginalized. If the activity is likely to put you into a space where you will grow in dependence on God, it might be just what you need. Constantly being stretched beyond your comfort zone may not be sustainable, but never saying “yes” to these opportunities for growth may cause you to miss out on what God has next for you.
God knows each of our capacities, skills, passions, and next steps for growth. Sometimes we are reluctant to say “no” or “not now” because we’re afraid the opportunity will not come again. But God’s timing is perfect. He invites us into a life of abundance where we can thrive and be fully present in all the activities on our plate. When we choose to follow Jesus into what he calls us to do rather than tasks that feed our ego or appease other people, the burden is light, and we will find rest for our souls. When we prayerfully put each opportunity through the filter of these five questions and the answers point to a green light, we can joyfully and confidently say “yes!”