Pushing Our Kids Outside Their Comfort Zones


My husband and I were drivers for our church student ministry's fast-food relay last night. As both of us were going, we took both girls to the event. My younger daughter was excited to go -- until my older daughter told her there was no way she was letting her younger sister be on her team.

Now, usually, I encourage my girls to do things together. Usually, I encourage them to support each other. We're constantly telling our girls that they need to remember that when no one else is in their corner, their sister will be. We encourage our girls to remember that "two are better than one."

But last night, we sided with our older daughter. The event was truly geared at my older daughter's age group. My younger daughter was simply getting to tag along. There are times when it's OK for my girls to ask for some separation from one another -- and last night was one of those.

When my younger daughter realized that I wasn't going to bend on her having to be on another team, she grumped and humphed. She tried to tell me she didn't want to go. She was concerned that she wouldn't know anyone. This was outside of her comfort zone.

When we arrived at church, I found a friend of mine who was also driving, stuck my younger daughter on her team, and prayed she would have a good time. After two hours of running around with a carload of middle-school girls, eating as many things off the list as we could, we returned to church -- to find my younger daughter's group already back and my younger daughter crowing that her group had beaten us. She had a great time, made some new friends, and had the added benefit of beating her sister and her mom.

Last night, we had to push my younger daughter out of her comfort zone. We had to stand firm in our opinion that she couldn't tag along with her sister. We had to encourage her to try something on her own. Because for her to gain independence and confidence in new situations, we have to provide opportunities for that -- even if it makes her uncomfortable.

Our kids are creatures of habit. They like the familiar. They like knowing what to expect. But if we never push them to step out on their own, to be a little uncomfortable, we keep them from learning to follow God no matter where He leads. God is rarely concerned with how comfortable we feel; He's concerned with our obedience. He often asks us to walk by faith -- to do things that are outside our comfort zone, often things we've never dreamed of doing.

If we've never pushed our kids outside their comfort zones, if we've never asked them to do something despite their fears, then we're not preparing them to follow God wherever He asks them to go. We're not getting them ready to lead an independent life of faith and trust God more than they fear the unknown.

Choosing a separate team for my younger daughter last night seems like a small thing, but it's one small step toward helping her realize that sometimes an uncomfortable situation can turn out for good. It's one small step on her path to choosing to follow God no matter where He leads.

Are you pushing your kids out of their comfort zone so they can learn to follow God even when it's uncomfortable?