Do you like group fitness classes? Be honest. Everyone in the room is watching you…judging you. Or at least that’s what you think in your head. It’s kind of intimidating. Or at the very least uncomfortable.
Over the summer, my friend asked me if I wanted to go to a kickboxing class. “Groupon has a deal!” These are code words for: “How could we not seize the opportunity at this cheap price?!” I’m always down for trying new things and to be honest, this was our second attempt at kickboxing (ask me about that story later!), so we were determined.
True confession: I was nervous. I don’t like group fitness classes. I like to think of myself as a strong person. I’m a doer. I’m a go-getter. Anything you can do, I can do better. I’m internally very competitive. But my left shoulder is weak (more about this in the Color Me Yellow book). That weakness means that I need to be mindful of what I do with my left arm and how I do it. So I was a little nervous about being in a group class where that weakness would be exposed. I wanted to try it out with no modifications, no special treatment, and no attention from anyone. So I foolishly didn’t tell the kickboxing coaches about my weakness. Even though my friend told me to say something. But even though I have this weakness, I didn’t want anyone to see my weakness. Maybe you can relate to that?
During the class, I was ALL IN. But the next day, I could barely get out of bed. Muscles I didn’t even know I had were sore. My left shoulder was in pain. I could barely lift my arm. We weren’t going back to the class for another week. I was thankful, because I ended up needing the whole week to recover! But my friend told me that I had to tell the coach before the next class about my left shoulder weakness.
She stood right next to me while I told the coach – partially to make sure that I did it, but more than that to have my back throughout the class. The coach asked all the right questions about when it hurt last week. He gave me all the right instructions about making modifications to certain exercises, about being mindful of my form while I was punching the bag, and about not punching the bag too hard with my left arm.
Well, thank you. This is reason I hate group fitness classes. I don’t want anyone watching me in my weakness!
Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress.
1 Timothy 4:15
Paul writes to Timothy when he was a young pastor of a church in Ephesus. This church was originally Paul’s church and he chose to leave it to his mentee, Timothy. He must have been honored. But he also must’ve need some encouragement as a young leader. So, Paul encourages him to do three things:
# 1: Practice Certain Things
In order to serve his purpose as a pastor, he needed to practice. In the verses before, he’s already told him what to practice. Practice being confident. Practice being an example. Practice preaching and teaching the Word. Practice encouraging people. Practice mastering the excellence of your gifts.
#2: Immerse Yourself In Those Things
In the original Greek language, the idea of immersing himself was to “be IN them”. Paul wanted Timothy to be in these things so much that they absorbed him and he absorbed them. Paul encouraged him to commit to a persistent practice of certain things that would help him live out his God-designed purpose. We practice to get better at something, because we haven’t mastered it yet.
#3: Practice Those Things For ALL To SEE Your Progress
Okay, okay. Wait a second. I can get super pumped with persistent practice, Paul. But when you start to talk about doing it so that others can see it…then I start to get nervous. I start to think about group fitness classes again and how much I don’t want anyone watching me in my weakness!
Allowing people to see our progress means allowing people to see our weakness.
For Timothy, this meant that people would have to see him struggle with insecurity and move towards confidence. They would see him failing to be a good example for others. They would have to listen to some bad sermons. They would have to see him struggle to encourage discouraging people. They would have to watch him progress from fumbling in his gifts to mastering them.
Allowing people to see our progress means allowing people to see God’s strength working itself through our weakness. Allowing people to see our progress means allowing people to see God’s hand at work our practiced process, not just our finished product. Allowing people to see our progress means allowing people to see us as God sees us and love us as God loves us.
And that can be terrifying. Terrifying because it means you have to be vulnerable with people about your process. The messy, disastrous process of practicing. Of being weak. Of failing. Of falling. Of becoming.
I didn’t want my friend to watch me in my weakness. But knowing she was watching, actually challenged me to practice strengthening my weak arm with the modifications. I knew her watching me meant her watching out for me. She was cheering for me. She was supporting me. She was having my back (and my arm). She was watching out for me through the process and seeing my progress. Instead of feeling intimidated, I felt inspired.
As people inspire us to progress, we inspire them to progress. As people watch us and watch out for us, we create the space for us to watch them and watch out for them. As people receive our vulnerability, we open our hands to receive their vulnerability.
Seeing each other’s progress glorifies God in the process of practice.
He’s glorified, because we are transforming as individuals into our God-designed purposes AND we are transforming into a God-designed community. A God-designed community where even though we’re all practicing and progressing through our weaknesses, we’re not doing it alone. A God-designed community where people are cheering for you, where people are supporting you, and where people have your back. A God-designed community where group fitness is actually inspiring!
Color You _____ Moments
- What is one of your weaknesses that is hard for you to share with someone?
- Why is it hard for you to share that weakness?
- How would you describe a God-designed community?
If you are part of a God-designed community, I want to encourage to let others see your progress. I know it’s terrifying, but I also know that it’s inspiring.
If you aren’t part of a God-designed community, then I want to share a little bit of perspective on what Paul was telling Timothy. Timothy was the leader of his community. Paul was telling Timothy to set the standard for vulnerability. Get connected to the body of Christ, start setting the standard for vulnerability, and God will start transforming those relationships, so that His God-design comes alive.
Often times the best place to find your voice is alongside others. I’m watching you.
In the tension together,