I recently had a conversation with someone about the difference in being comfortable and being comforted or something being comforting. I am sure the majority of you have heard me say more than once, that carrying a concealed weapon should be comforting, and not comfortable. But based on something I read that Rodney wrote, I have asked myself; Is leadership comfortable or comforting? And then I ask everyone else; Should we be comfortable with our leaders, and should we be comforted by them?
I am going to do my best to keep from being very theological, as I don’t feel that is my place on this web site, but I would be doing a great disservice if I didn’t lean on The Bible a little, so here it goes, first one of my favorite quotes from history:
“A government large enough to give you everything you need (or make you comfortable), is large enough to take everything you have (or take away your comfort).”
One of the first things I found is a verse from Isaiah where God says, “Comfort, comfort my people.” In this verse, God is suggesting that His people would be comforted, in the sense that a mother comforts her child? Because, when God whispers, “it’s gonna be alright,” to His upset child, you can take that to the bank. I was also directed to Romans 8:28 is, “We know that all things work together for the good of those who love the Lord: those who are called according to His purpose.” It is very comforting to KNOW that we can rely on the Lord.
However, most of the time when we talk about comfort, we are dealing with being comfortable. This is a completely different thing. God never promised that we would be comfortable, nor do our leaders, nor should they. He did promise us peace and contentment with our circumstances, but not comfortable circumstances. I think this is the most difficult thing to understand. And I think leadership, true leadership, is the same. It’s comforting for the followers but not necessarily comfortable for the leader. Maybe this is why everyone isn’t a leader, or a Sheepdog, or a Hunter – [cue Kevin smiling and Rene commenting.]
If you take an overview of history of the people involved, you see a repeating pattern in which things would get comfortable for people and they would slowly forget God, and how they became comfortable. Then, there would be a crisis, like war or drought or famine or disease, and the people would suddenly remember that they need God, and they would flock to a figure in charge, in lieu of a true leader or God.
All in all, being comfortable is hard on faith. Jesus’ statement about it being harder for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to get to heaven is a reflection of this. When we have everything we need, what do we need God for? Hence the changes I made to the quote above. Does God give us the comfort, or equip us with the ability to makes ourselves comfortable? I often have to remind people that the phrase “God helps those who help themselves.” Is NOT in the Bible.
Another important aspect of comfort is that it generally requires us to get out of our “comfort zone.”
My experience has proven to me that I learn lessons when the point is typically applied painfully, and I find that God uses me the best when I am UNcomfortable. When we are doing those tasks that we are completely comfortable with then we have confidence that we can accomplish everything that needs done with our own strength. It isn’t God’s plan for us that we work in our own strength; He wants us to depend on Him. When we depend on Him is when the stage is set for God-sized results. While it can be really scary to go out of our comfort-zone, the rewards can be amazing.
God doesn’t call us to get comfortable in this world because we are just passing through. Our real home is heaven. To get comfortable here is like stopping at the gas station along the highway, taking off our shoes, changing into our lounging clothes and settling in to watch TV and munching the snacks that we find laying around. Although the gas station may have a few characteristics in common with our homes, like snacks, it isn’t our home. While this world may have a few characteristics in common with heaven, it isn’t heaven and it isn’t our home.
So as leaders, I think we are called to be comforting to our followers, but not ever let them get comfortable.