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“In the zone: Term used to describe a state of mind whereby a person/machine is working/performing at peak or optimal performance. Usually applied to athletes, sportsmen/women.”

Urban Dictionary

I am a big believer in focusing on work that is in the zone. If God is our Creator and the Spirit gives us spiritual gifts, then he has created us for particular roles that fit our abilities. One person’s calling may involve leading a large ministry while another may mean influencing others through what she considers her ordinary life. We were made for those places as God uses us to extend his presence into our world.

But even the greatest fit, the perfect ministry role, the place we feel most alive involves some work outside our zones.

The greatest schoolteacher has to keep records and grade papers. The best surgeon has to deal with his patients, even without the greatest bedside manner. The most beautiful model has to spend hours at the gym to stay fit. The mom who stays home because she loves to be with her kids has to cook. The finest preacher has to lead toward change even if he isn’t a strong leader.

Although I’ve always been good at math, I hate working on finances. (And I could say hate, hate, hate here!) Yet, my previous work on church staffs and now with BOW Ministries requires me to prepare budgets, pay bills, and keep track of everything. Lately I feel like my financial chores have kept me out of the zone way more than in it. It takes me hours longer to do these jobs than if I was actually any good at it!

So how do we thrive when we have responsibilities outside our zones which are necessary to succeed in the zone?

  • Delegate the task to someone who loves it. The larger your team or organization, the easier this is. (If you have a hard time delegating, read this post.)

If you read our newsletters and blog posts, you know that we are producing some free videos. Many are for leadership development, and we are also recording a series of women’s stories to go along with our new Bible study Interrupted by God. Anything that technical is totally foreign to me. But God has given BOW some wonderful and generous board members who amazingly like doing technical stuff. They have pitched in to do what I cannot—and certainly should not—be doing!

  • Get a coach or teammate for the drudge work and benefit from her wisdom and training. At the very least, have fun working with someone else rather than spending hours alone in agony.

I find it so much easier to complete a dreaded task when I have time set aside on my calendar to do it with a friend. Although I’ve been a women’s minister, I don’t really enjoy planning or preparing for events. Being part of a team to set up, decorate, or plan is a lot more fun than doing it alone.

  • Thank God for giving you tasks outside of your zone to keep you humble and dependent on him.

I used to say that I liked being a volunteer more than on a church staff because I could say no to the things I didn’t like and focus on the things I was best at doing, and it is true. But I have learned to thank God for the things I must do apart from my gifting and passions because I recognize my dependence much more than when I’m in the zone.

How have you been stretched outside the zone?

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