In the process of planting twelve churches my wife and I have had to face some serious risks: the possibility of failure, career path reversal, financial loss, and a host of others. But we faced these risks, weighed them prayerfully, and moved ahead anyway. I’m glad we did. Yes, there were some failures along the way, but we accepted that as the price of greater success. Twenty five years later we can look back and be thankful for so much accomplished and so many lives touched. None of which would have happened if we had not been willing to take the risks involved.
Of course, everybody loves the idea of big achievements. But not everyone is willing to take the risks that are an inevitable part of reaching for bigger things. I guess this is what separates the doers from the dreamers. Here’s what we need to know about risk:
- It’s unavoidable. All we can do is choose which risks we prefer. Helen Keller said, “Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.”
- It’s manageable. Much of our aversion to risk is a kneejerk response to what we see on the surface. Once we begin to deconstruct the challenge in front of us – breaking it down into smaller steps, and formulating contingency plans for each step – it starts to look a lot more doable. A calculated risk is a much different thing than a gamble.
- It’s worth it. Progress always involves risk; you can’t steal second base and keep your foot on first. After all, we’re not talking about mere thrill seeking here, but about taking a chance in order to achieve a much more worthwhile goal. And attempting big things always enlarges us and enriches us. “Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” – T. S. Eliot
For a believer it’s often not even a question a risk, but rather one of obedience. When you are sure that you are following God’s leading, then you can be equally sure that no matter how risky it seems, you can trust God to bring you through to victory. The worst failure is simply failing to try.