Successful living involves risk-taking.
Over 300 people rejected Colonel Sanders’ special recipe for Southern fried chicken before he received a “yes.” Today, because of his persistence, KFC boasts 20,000 restaurants in 125 countries.
Surgeon Ben Carson writes in Take the Risk, “One of the worst things about playing it safe is how that displays not only a lack of honesty and gratitude on my part, but also a failure of trust. Playing it safe would send a message that I don’t truly trust God with my life; that I don’t believe he is able to direct and guide people, events, and circumstances according to his will.”
What happens today when we take risks?
1. We can’t control the outcome
One night on the Sea of Galilee, Jesus walked on the water toward the disciples. Not knowing what would happen, Peter got out of the boat and walked toward Jesus. It was absolutely out of his control.
Guidance and provision often come after we start moving – not when we see everything clearly. Sometimes we hesitate to take action because we don’t see how it will all come together.
Pastor Don Wilton counseled a couple who believed God wanted them to go to seminary, yet they hesitated. He asked, “Why?” They responded that they were trying to square away details. He said, “So you’re trying to get your ducks in a row?” They replied, “Yes.” Brother Don answered, “I’ve read the Bible from cover to cover several times. And there are no ducks in the Bible.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Don’t be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make, the better.”
2. We overcome the perfectionism trap.
Perfectionism is the enemy of taking risks. Perfectionists are motivated to get things right. To them, if it is not perfect, which is a subjective opinion, it’s not worth doing. Often frozen by unrealistic standards, they fear getting things wrong. If they can’t keep control, they won’t do it at all.
Two realities help us overcome perfectionism.
First, God accepts me as I am. Any work I do for Him is first seen through the acceptance I already enjoy. Christ and His atonement was the only perfect work. All of my works are like drawings, creations, and crafts brought to me by my children. Though technically imperfect, to me they are blameless expressions of their love because of our relationship.
Second, I can let go of the fear of being wrong, the root of which is often the pride of wanting to be right. When I make mistakes, I can get back up and try again.
Michael Hyatt says, “When you sit on something until it’s perfect, you miss a lot of opportunities. . . . It’s better to do good work really well. That way you’re contributing to people’s lives instead of locked in your own head about whether your work measures up to an impossible standard.”
3. We leave our potential support.
In order for Bilbo Baggins to experience the adventure of the Fellowship of the Ring, Gandalf challenged him to leave the familiar comfort of the Shire. Though naturally inclined to avoid adventures, he decided the rewards of seeing the mountains, caves, and waterfalls far outweighed the fears involved in taking a big risk.
Likewise, walking with God can be dangerous business. When I moved to seminary in Kentucky in 1995, I awoke the first morning in my dorm room and realized, “I don’t know one single person in this entire state!” I had to trust God to help me learn a new life, including where to shop, eat, bank, and worship.
President Jimmy Carter said, “Go out on a limb. That’s where the fruit is.”
But what if my weight cracks the limb? Or I lose my balance? Or the fruit is rotten? What if someone laughs at me?
We cannot play to the gallery of fearful questions and walk on the water.