They were turning off the lights and beginning to lock the doors after worship at church this past Sunday. The crowd stuck around longer than usual because, well, I’m not really sure why, but I know it’s a sign of healthy and growing churches, so I was not upset. Anyway, my niece, Carter, knocked on the office door where I help count the offering so she could say goodbye before she made a trip with her parents to the next town over.
“Bye, Mimi. I just really miss you,” she said.
“Well, Bug, why don’t I come along so we can spend time together in the car?”
“Seriously? Are you serious?” she asked, growing excited.
Of course, I was serious, but this 8-year-old girl is always shocked when something is added or taken away from the “plan.” So, the four of us—her dad (Nathan), her mom (my sister, Kayla), Carter, and I—piled into my car and began our voyage to the great city of Ashland, Kentucky.
(Side note: For the record, I introduced Carter’s parents. I want that published so one day, when it is very important, I have proof. Nathan was one of my best friends and, of course, Kayla is my sister. It was an obvious and simple match with little to no effort. I’m still taking credit though.)
As we were driving, I looked at my niece and said, “Carter, you’re a very kind girl and I am so glad you are my niece.” I’m trying to help shape this future world-changer, so I often drench her in encouragement, but only if it’s true. I won’t tell her she is the best bike rider since she still rides with training wheels, because that’s flattery. It’s a lie. I thoughtfully come up with the things I think she is good at or the characteristics I like about her and offer praise for those.
She looked at me with a straight face, crooked smile, and matter-of-fact eyes and simply said, “K.”
After just a few seconds, Nathan started chuckling. Then, he chuckled so hard it became a belly laugh! When Nathan laughs, he’s like Santa. He’s jolly and his laugh is contagious. The whole car suddenly erupted in laughter, except from me. Don’t misunderstand. I thought it was funny; I just didn’t want to encourage behavior that was certainly at my expense. (Who am I kidding? I laughed, too.)
Finding the Formula
After a few minutes, when everyone had regained composure, Carter leaned over to me (as much as her bulky booster seat would allow) and whispered, “Mimi, can you say that stuff to me again so I can say ‘K’ and make my daddy laugh again?”
She loved the fact that she made her dad laugh. Laughter often means the other person is delighted in us. Also, it amplifies our confidence because, frankly, it means we successfully entertained an “audience.”
Carter asked me to repeat the scene with her because (1) she knew it worked and (2) it was easy. She found a formula: “Listen to Mimi compliment me, answer with ‘K,’ get all the laughs.” Boom-boom-boom. Here’s the thing: Although it might get another chuckle, it wouldn’t get the same belly laugh from her dad she wanted, because it was easy . . . cheap in some regards.
Then it hit me like a comet falling from the sky. I am just like Carter! She wanted to make her dad happy and laugh, and I also want to bring joy to my heavenly Father! I do my best to make it happen, but I’m not always on target. I started thinking, What if the things that please God most aren’t the things that come easily to us? Hear me out.
I am an extrovert to the millionth degree. After conferences or social gatherings, I genuinely feel like I could run five miles . . . and I am not a runner. Talking to people about Jesus, teaching other women about God and his nature, sharing the gospel—these things come very easy for me. They come naturally. I am the loathed seat partner on the plane who asks, “Where are you from?”
Pleasing God from Out of Our Comfort Zones
Starting up conversations and asking questions, although pleasing to God, are not the only ways I can please him. I might do these constantly, but then neglect any spiritual discipline requiring me to be alone. I often wonder if God is just as pleased with me when I am making the extra effort to come out of my comfort zone and be alone with him.
What does this mean for you? I did a little research, and apparently, as an extrovert, I’m in the minority in this world. Most people are the opposite. They thrive in their prayer closets or anything they can do alone.
However, I don’t necessarily think that is where God is most pleased. I do believe he wants us to do those things that bring out our natural gifts and talents, but I think he is more proud of us when we step out of our comfort zones, whatever they might be, and share the gospel with someone else—that was his last command to us. Can you imagine what the world would be like if more Christians did this? It could be life changing!
Today, dare to step outside of your box and please your Father.