Risk Taking

I have never considered myself a huge risk taker …..but after reading and studying what a risk taker is defined to be…..I have changed my mind. Someone who risks loss in hope of gain is one definition. Or someone who makes a decision with the possibility of suffering harm or loss or someone who takes a risk in return for excitement is considered a risk taker.

I can honestly say, I am NOT the kind of risk taker who wants to sky dive in return for the thrill, or gamble a lot of money for potential great gain. As I studied people who take risks……..I found categories of risk takers. Playing it safe and staying in the comfort zone of life can be stifling. It can keep us from forward progress and usually a lack of risk taking is due to fear……fear of the outcome…….!

Most highly successful people take “calculated risk.” They think through the possible outcomes a risky decision could have….looking at the “down the road picture” and evaluating different scenarios……then deciding if the risk outweighs the worst outcome.

For example, a golfer on a Par 5 has to consider possible outcomes for their second shot. If they hit a great drive and decide to go for the green on the second shot…..it could put them in a position to make an eagle …..they have to consider:

  1. Is there trouble around the green…like water….out-of-bounds….etc.? So that if they don’t hit the green, are they bringing in the possibility of real trouble???
  2. What is the wind direction…does it work for them or against them?
  3. Are they playing really well and would trying for eagle be worth it if there is trouble around?
  4. Are they playing bad and just need to give themselves a shot at making birdie just to have something positive? In this situation, going for the green could be too risky so laying up and going for birdie would be more reasonable than going for eagle and chance all the trouble around the green…..

There are more scenarios a golfer works through but I think you get the picture of risk taking in golf. I don’t think you can be a GREAT GOLFER who plays at a high level unless you risk……but I think you have to take smart, measured risk……..looking at the bigger picture and the possible outcomes. From my experience of watching a ton of golf, risk taking is necessary but not heeding to the wisdom found in calculating risks and looking at the whole picture can spell unnecessary trouble.

For me, I took a risk in trying to win the title of Miss South Carolina after college graduation. There was risk if I chose not to interview with the Clemson job fair, which all my friends were doing. Instead I chose to enter a local preliminary in hopes of winning and having a shot at Miss South Carolina and ultimately Miss America. If I won, I had to determine what I would do for a year while waiting for the the state pageant to roll around. It would have been hard to start a job and then have to quit after a short while to prepare for the state pageant. If I made it to the Miss South Carolina pageant but didn’t win, I wondered how hard it would be to get a job after not “working a real job for a year, basically being unemployed.” I was risking a lot of time chasing a dream and unearned income potential!

After weighing it out, putting much prayer into my decision, I decided the risk of trying at my young age was worth it. I thought through taking the risk and looking at it as a choice to be “self-employed,” kind of like starting a business. I was my own boss, and my parents would have to choose to spend money on an investment that might not have a winning outcome. After talking with my parents, and considering my past accomplishments, we decided it was a risk worth taking. So I threw my hat in the ring and never looked back.

Risk taking is something God intends all of us to do. When we take what I call measured risk–seeking God, wise counsel, wisdom from past experience, and getting the “gut green light”–that is when I have found in my life that I can see God so vividly. Proverbs 16:20-21, “Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord. The wise in heart are called discerning, and gracious words promote instruction.”

Living in a comfort zone where everything is predictable, going with the flow and following the crowd, requires little effort from me/you/us and diminishes our opportunity to see God’s invisible but VERY visible hand.

The Bible gives us countless stories of risk takers. Abraham was courageous in his old age. Moses was determined to lead his people to the land of freedom. Jesus did what He did to inaugurate the reign of God on earth. Paul was focused on his mission of proclaiming Christ among believers and non-believers. In moments of pain, anguish and rejection, they suffered and cried like any ordinary person in times of weakness. But they knew the reason for their toil and sorrow. Risks acquired new meaning because of the burning light within.

In order to have forward progress and accomplish much while here on earth, being a wise, faithful risk taker is what God has for each one of us. Risk takers should have a strong vision that exceeds the risks. Every risk taking endeavor needs a strong sense of purpose to prevail when obstacles come our way, even fear. This strong purpose serves as an inner fuel and reminds me/you/us why I/you/we are doing what we are doing. Finally, when we allow God to inspire our risk and be led by HIM, that gives us the power to prevail. I call it faith, hope and love. All of which God will provide.

God’s plan and desire is to give all of His children a vision and purpose to accomplish. None of us were an accident. We were created to do special things. He has something waiting for all of us. I call it our purpose. When we seek God and find that purpose, the rest involves planning and hard work to the end. And if we do something good that goes against what is ordinary, standard, popular, traditional, or official then, like the heroes of the Bible, we should be prepared to risk our comfort, reputation, security, future and even life. After all, risk taking is not a matter of certainty because no one knows the future. It is a matter of surrender and trust in the One who holds the future.

When you are tempted to fear taking a measured risk consider Hebrews 12:1-4: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.”

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