I love to travel. I like seeing new places and experiencing new things. It broadens my life and opens my mind to many new ideas and helps me realize there are so many different ways to live and things to do. The places I have seen, along with the people I have met while traveling, have enriched my life in ways that are unexplainable. But in order to travel, you must move from one location to another.
As leaders and Christians, we should always be traveling. We should continue to grow and expand everyday. We should not be at the place we were last month or last year. Growing is an ongoing “traveling” process that lasts your entire life. Not growing is dangerous. We cannot become stale and stagnant, but many Christians and leaders do. They become satisfied and complacent in their journey and do not grow or develop.
I have spent that last 10 days traveling and began to think about some of the reasons people do not grow in their personal journey. When you see people traveling around the world, we often think of this glamorous lifestyle that must be wonderful. There are many perks to traveling, but there are some reasons why people do not travel. Some of the same reasons people do not travel physically are the same reasons people do not “travel” or grow as a person, as a leader or as a Christian. Here are some things I experienced these past few days that I think apply to both.
The Cost It Too High
Travel is rarely free. Gas or airline tickets, hotels and food are all part of the costs of travel. I often get free flights or free rooms from rewards programs that I am a part of, but there is still a cost to travel. We have to take time off from work, be away from family or give up other things that we may want to be doing. We do not want to make sacrifices in other areas to allow us to travel.
The same is true of our growth “travel”. Often the price is too high. Sometimes it is a financial cost. We may need to buy a book or attend a conference. Often it is we do not want to give up what we are currently doing or comfortable with to become a better leader, person or Christian. Growing may require us to give up something or take a new responsibility so we would rather stay where we are. There is always a cost to grow. Sometimes you have to leave people behind that do not want to grow with you so it costs us relationships. However, if we intend to reach our full potential, we must always be willing to pay the cost to “travel” and grow.
It Is Inconvenient
I was scheduled to speak at two conferences on back to back weekends in Venezuela. We had 3 days free we could relax in between, so we decided to take 3 days in Aruba, which is a 25 minute flight from Caracas. We bought the tickets and were ready to travel. We arrived at the airport early, checked in at 6 AM and they told us our 8 AM flight had been delayed until 2 PM. That was inconvenient, but sometimes those things happen. They gave us food vouchers and we opted to stay at the airport. As the day went along, it became apparent that there was a bigger problem than a delay. There were people waiting for this flight for 3 days in the airport and they were irate. The plane did not leave at 2. They finally got clearance from the government to fly the plane at 4 PM and they told us we would board in 15 minutes. That did not happen. We finally boarded the plane at 8:30 PM. We had to stop in Curacao and wait on another flight. We finally arrived in Aruba after midnight almost 17 hours late. We lost one whole day and replaced it with a day full of stress. Now the wait was worth it, but it was terribly inconvenient. We would much rather have left promptly.
Sometimes as we “travel” and grow, we experience delays and inconveniences. Things do not go as we planned or expected. We think we should be further along than we are. Sometimes situations out of our control slow us down or hinder us. So instead of reaping the rewards that come after the delays, we prefer to avoid the inconvenience and stay where we are. Growing and learning is not easy and is often very difficult, but the rewards always outweigh the inconveniences. Someone else may slow you down. Circumstances may alter your plans. But do not succomb to staying because there might be an inconvenience. Grow. Travel! The rewards far outweigh the trouble.
It Is Not What You Thought It Would Be
Several years ago we were traveling to Europe. Two of our stops included Barcelona and Croatia. Everyone told me how much I would love Barcelona and it was a place I always wanted to go. My only introduction to Croatia was through the news, and there had been many problems in that part of the world at that time. I had huge expectations for Spain and low expectations for Croatia. After visiting both places, I left extremely disappointed in Barcelona and overwhelmed at the beauty of Croatia. Neither of them were what I thought they would be. One surprised and the other disappointed.
The same is true of our growth as a leader and a Christian. We often have preconceived ideas that if we can get to this place or arrive at this point it will be great. Or we do not look forward to other things because we do not think they will be great. We often are disappointed at some things and surprised at others. A specific example in my life happened in 2007. I had previously served as a senior pastor and had the opportunity to become the senior pastor of a church that was fairly new and an exciting place to be. The church I was attending asked me at the same time to stay and serve as an associate pastor there. My choice was to serve as a senior pastor somewhere else or stay and serve as an associate pastor at my current church. Based on my personality and gifts, I knew for sure the place I needed to be was to take the church as a senior pastor and move on. As I began to talk with wise people and pray diligently about it, I came to the conclusion that the place for me to serve was as an assocaite pastor at that time. I had very low expectations of what my experience would be. Five years in hindsight, I would not trade that experience for anything. It was a place of extreme growth in my life and it led me directly to the place God has for me now as lead pastor. Sometimes we are disappointed and other times we are surprised. Neither should keep us from moving forward.
What is stopping you today. Has complacency set in? Are you traveling? Are you growing? Are there reasons why you are not? There is a cost. It is often inconvenient. You may be disappointed at times. But “traveling” is always worth it. Do not stay where you are as a leader. Grow. Travel. You will be glad you did!