One of my favorite quotes is from Ken Blanchard, a business consultant. “Unless you feel awkward doing something new, you are NOT doing something new.”
I remembered it as I joined six friends in August on a long bike ride near La Crosse WI and learned that I was one of the least experienced cyclists in the group. In the first seven miles I had a flat and I felt awkward as I tried to change the tire as quickly as possible. In my haste I only pinched or damaged two new tubes and so felt a triple embarrassment as I changed each new flat. I seriously thought about dropping out and riding/walking back to the motel.
Yet the marvelous thing about my cycling buddies is that they graciously responded to my awkwardness with understanding and care. No one abandoned me. No one spurned me. The helped me in part because they each had been in the same awkward position on other rides. They had experienced flat tires and awkward changes.
This fall I want to encourage you to try something new. It might be a new volunteer opportunity or new social group. It might be a small group Bible Study or worship experience. You may feel a bit awkward starting out, but unless you try something new you will never fully appreciate the wonder of discovery.
At the same time, if you are in an established group and someone new arrives, practice hospitality and be attentive to their needs. Jesus taught this simple rule, “In everything, do to others as you would have them do to you” (Matt. 7:12). This is our encouragement to see the newcomer as someone to welcome and to guide as we remember our own first arrival in the group. The newcomer may feel awkward the first time they run with a group or open a Bible or serve on a task force or change a flat. Yet we can help them move out of the awkward, beginning stage.
I am so glad I was able to swallow my pride and continued the ride. We saw some spectacular scenery and shared some major climbs. As we finished our sixty-plus miles, we all marveled at what a wonderful day it was. And no one mentioned flat tires.
Lord Jesus, challenge me again to discover something new in life.