Ever thought about how a lobster grows? Because of its rigid shell, the larger it gets, the more uncomfortable the lobster becomes. Eventually, it has to shed its old shell in order to grow a new, roomier model. This process is repeated multiple times (as many as 25 times over the first 5-7 years of its life) until it reaches its maximum size.
During the 48 hours or so that the lobster is shell-less, it’s in grave danger. (You could walk up at any time with a cup of melted butter, and it would be all over!) For the lobster, there is no growth without risk.
I see two lessons for us in the example of the naked lobster:
- You won’t grow without taking some risks.
- You won’t grow without leaving something familiar behind.
God is calling us to walk with Him, but He doesn’t guarantee that the journey will be “safe.” The Christian walk can be incredibly scary…if you are doing it right. That is, if you are taking risks that God asks you to take so that you have to put your faith in Him. These risks will require that you get out of our comfort zone. That “comfort zone,” that “familiar thing” you are leaving behind is often something related to your old sin nature. Like the lobster’s old shell, it should be more and more uncomfortable to you as you grow in your relationship with Christ. When you realize that it’s dead, it’s time to shuck it off.
As a leader, your “comfort zone” or “familiar thing” could be your leadership position. How long have you been in your current role? Long enough to grow a shell? Are you still growing in your role, or has your shell begun to define your limits? If you are holding onto your position because it’s comfortable and safe, because you’re afraid of challenging yourself and taking some risk, because you are trying to save face or hold on tightly to something you “earned” years ago through your hard work, you are stuck in an old, rigid shell. It’s not good for you, and it’s not good for your organization.
The lobster operates on instinct to shed his shell, but unless someone with authority forces you out of your shell, you have to have courage to get rid of it. You don’t have to take the risk if you really don’t want to. If you are too afraid to leave the familiar for something better, you can continue to stay in your cramped, little shell convincing yourself that it isn’t so uncomfortable after all.
But let’s be honest with ourselves for a moment….it is starting to pinch, isn’t it? Do the things that used to motivate you seem boring and burdensome now? Do you find yourself spending more energy holding onto what you have than investing in yourself to grow? Accept my testimony as someone who has left his shell multiple times (a few times by choice and several times against my will as I tried desperately to hold onto what I had). God is waiting outside your shell. He’s calling to you from just outside your comfort zone, and He’ll lead you through the next stage of your growth as you faithfully and courageously walk with Him.