The Danger of Familiarity


As I return to Kingston-Galloway for my third summer, feelings of initial fear and uncertainty that preceded past summers have been replaced with excitement and hope. Familiarity with the kids and the program has helped me approach this summer of ministry with confidence and anticipation of what God will do.

However, this sense of familiarity can also be a negative thing. Knowing the kids and what to expect can cause me to become lackadaisical. There is always the possibility of falling into a pattern of just going through the motions day after day because I have experienced it all before.  

Familiarity can become a mental block. It closes us to reality and sometimes blinds us from seeing new and good things. The Gospel of Matthew tells the story of Jesus returning to his hometown. Jesus began teaching in the synagogue; however, the people let familiarity get the best of them. They said, “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas? Aren’t all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?”  And they took offense at him.” (Matthew 13:55-57). The people were familiar with Jesus because he grew up in their town and were unable to see and accept Jesus as the Messiah so “he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith” (Matthew 13:58). Their familiarity caused them to miss out on miracles and things that God wanted to do in their lives. 


Although God doesn’t change (Malachi 3:6), his method of doing things can change. Isaiah 43:18-19a says, “Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?”

Therefore, I must be constantly be aware of my familiarity and not allow it to prevent me from perceiving the new things that God will do this summer.

With this in mind, I am entering this summer of ministry with a sense of intentionality and expectancy as I look forward to the new things that God has in store.