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Why Risk is So Important


When I graduated college and began my ministry career, I left the classroom setting with a slew of theories and ideas of how to run a church. I had taken tests and written papers on various concepts and problems in ministry. But as many pastors will tell you, all of that goes out the window when you settle into your office and actually lead a church for the first time. It’s one of the reasons I believe landing an internship is so important while you’re in school. You can have all the head knowledge and understand all of the theories, but it means nothing unless you’ve actually experienced the drama and politics that come with church leadership.

I believe the same can be said about the concept of faith. I can easily claim that I love Christ more than life itself, but it’s one thing to say that and another to face persecution as a result of my relationship with him. It’s one thing for me to say that God is good; it’s another to demonstrate it in my attitude through difficult times. Phillip Yancey states it best.

“Without an element of risk, there is no faith. …this middle ground may represent the greatest danger, because it removes passion in a person’s relationship with God. Faith becomes a kind of intellectual puzzle, which is never biblical faith.

Faith means striking out, with no clear end in sight and perhaps even no clear view of the next step. It means following, trusting, holding out a hand to an invisible Guide.”

I have to be honest. I’m pretty terrible about taking risks. Every decision I make is calculated, designed to minimize or eliminate the scary uncertainties. I have enough auto insurance that I could total a Porsche and still not reach my liability cap. I carry enough life insurance that if I wasn’t sure Holly loved me, I probably wouldn’t turn my back to her that often.

While these are all good and responsible things to do, it’s easy for me to do this out of a desire to be in control. I can’t stand when I’m unable to dictate or forecast the outcome of a situation. But in the end, I’m really limiting my opportunities to trust and observe God coming through. This is why James reminds us that the testing of our faith produces perseverance. Risk is the breeding ground for faith. So how can you take some steps out of your personal shelter?

1. Learn to discern the difference between responsibility vs. being a control freak.

There is nothing wrong with having life insurance or saving to protect your family from financial woes. In fact, I’d say it’s the prudent and responsible thing to do. But somewhere (and I don’t know where), there is a line between being responsible and just being a control freak. If you’re saying ‘no’ to things you know God is laying on your heart to do, chances are you’ve crossed it.

2. Assess the idols in your life.

In a post from several months ago, I address three questions all Christians should ask themselves regarding the people and things in their lives (click here to read it). We are always going to guard the things that matter most and often when we’re becoming controlling, it’s because there is an idol that we are refusing to surrender to Christ. Figure out what those are in your life and begin the process of removing them from the center of your heart.

3. Take a step out there.

Take a risk. Maybe God is calling you to give a portion of your income to a ministry or missions effort and you’ve been scared to let it go. You might be facing an opportunity to minister overseas and you’ve been hesitant to make the move. It could involve a career change or moving to a new city. Really, the best way to grow your faith is to exercise it so get out there and do it.

4. Pray.

I don’t name this last because it’s unimportant. It’s crucial. Ask God to give you that faith necessary for the risks ahead. Pray for his guidance, discernment, and wisdom. Ask for courage and strength to move forward. Vocalize your commitment and trust in Christ and expect him to pull through.

Discuss: What else would you add to this list?

Posted in: Faith

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  • Jeff Roe

    Great stuff Matt. Just last night we were talking about the parable of the minas in Luke 19. We noticed that the servant who was rebuked acknowledged his fear of the master, but he allowed fear of risk to overpower fear of disobedience. Recognizing the fear of risk is critical, but more important is recognizing the God who puts us in position to succeed according to His divine plan, not necessarily our own.

    • Matt Morrison

      Thanks Jeff! I agree. We have to make sure we are using risk as something to drive us closer to Christ.