Everyone wants to be awesome but few people want to learn how. I have found that you have to be willing to visit a place called awkward if you want to excel in anything. Most of the time, we will avoid experiencing awkwardness at all costs. We hate stumbling, fumbling and mumbling and want to move to a place where we are experts, where we are successful and where we find ourselves constantly winning. But the truth is, most of the time, we have to pass through awkward to get to awesome.
Everything that I can do well I’ve had to practice. And the reason I had to practice was because initially I couldn’t do it and had to learn. I have made so many mistakes learning to prophesy, learning to heal the sick, learning to teach, learning to follow the Holy Spirit that I could write volumes about my errors. I have a Masters Degree in spectacular failures, but a PhD in trying! I understand the desire to move from no experience to instant success but part of our character growth comes from making mistakes, and learning from them. If you’re not willing to make mistakes, it’s unlikely you are going to move beyond where you are right now.
I remember one of the first times I ever tried to practice a word of knowledge. I was in a bank waiting in line for a teller to help me and I was asking God for her name. After I got my banking done that particular day, the conversation went something like this,
“Hi, is your name Sarah?”
“Oh. Do you have a sister called Sarah?”
“Anyone in your family called Sarah?”
“Have you ever met anyone called Sarah?”
And with each successive “Nope” I could feel my face glowing redder and redder and feeling like I was quickly becoming a permanent resident of awkward and that I had no future in prophetic ministry.
It’s not just learning to move in the prophetic that can feel awkward. Moving into anything that’s not your norm is awkward. I remember the early days of learning how to be generous. Several years ago, I was in a grocery store waiting to check out and the lady in front of me had clearly done her weekly shopping. The checkout assistant told her the amount, the woman went to pay, only to find that she didn’t have her cards with her and with a great amount of embarrassment said she had to leave and trace her steps to find her cards. She very quickly left the store cursing herself for being so stupid, dragging her three young children behind her. Realizing this was an opportunity to practice being generous, I stepped up to the teller to pay for the groceries. It was only then that I realized I’d have the really awkward job of running after her to give her all these bags. That was another awkward conversation filled with uhmm’s and ahh’s as she asked why I would do such a thing.
Even something as seemingly simple as learning to speak the love languages of those around you feels awkward at first. My primary love language is words of affirmation and my lowest is quality time. AJ is the opposite; she loves quality time and words of affirmation do very little for her! I remember learning (who am I kidding... I’m still learning!) to think like a quality time person. I wasn’t sure if I was doing it right, or if AJ would like what I had planned - everything felt abnormal and I was thinking, “I feel like I am totally faking this!”. Same thing for AJ. She tells a story about learning to speak words of affirmation to me. She felt completely out of her depth doing something that wasn’t normal for her. She’d wrack her brain for things to say, but everything felt and sounded stupid to her and when she said it she felt awkward. But over time it got easier and easier. That’s the good news.
If you are not used to telling friends and family that you love them, then it’s awkward for everyone involved to step out and tell them. It’s an experience full of darting eye glances, shifting feet, weird hugs and all round awkwardness. But I’d sooner press through awkwardness and move onto authenticity anytime! I’d sooner my friends and family knew that I loved them than had to guess just so I could avoid awkwardness.
I remember training to be a school teacher and the day it came for me to teach my first lesson to a bunch of thirteen year olds. It was beyond awkward. I felt awkward, the students felt awkward, my tutor felt awkward. But you have to be prepared to endure awkwardness for competence. Even at emanate, where we give people opportunity to lead worship, host meetings, pray for the sick or even have a turn at teaching or preaching, it can be awkward. But I’ve learnt not to be threatened or fearful of awkwardness. I’m happy for my team to try something anytime they want. I am happy for them to risk, to try and to fail in the process. I’ll help them clean up and I’ll pay for any mistakes along the way, so long as they let me teach them afterwards about what went wrong.
Two people who have spent years investing in me are John & Carol Arnott. I am where I am today because they constantly invited me onto their platform and let me try things. Several times in the middle of worship at a meeting or a conference, John would lean over to me and say, “Alyn, why don’t you get up and lead a healing segment?” and I would reply, “Because you are better at it than I am!” But John, ever the father and encourager, would say, “Go on Alyn, you’ll do great! If you need me I’ll be right here!”. With great trepidation, I’d take a deep breath and step out in faith. Let me tell you, there were many awkward moments as I’d stumble through trying to follow the Holy Spirit and minister healing - but I wanted to see the sick healed. I wanted to be just like Jesus. That’s what kept me going. I realized that I was never going to see the sick healed unless I started praying for them! You have to pass through awkwardness to see results.
The first time I went on a date with my wife it was awkward. So beyond awkward we need a new word for it. I knew I liked her, but I didn’t know if she liked me. I knew I wanted to get to know her, but wasn’t sure if we had a future. It was so awkward I had spent the day planning what to say and had written notes! It was so awkward that at the end of the meal, she excused herself, went to the restroom and promptly threw up because she was so nervous. But now, many years later, we laugh at that night. And we enjoy and celebrate that we passed through that hideous awkwardness into marriage.
Let me encourage you, start being awkward. Face it. Brace for it. And press through it into your destiny. Try something new. Practice what you want to become. Ask that girl on a date. Do follow that prompting of the Holy Spirit. Try prophesying over your waiter. Give something to someone. Whatever it is, embrace the awkwardness knowing that awesome lies just beyond it.
Share this article