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Ministry Musings: You Are Called to Take Risks


A few years ago, on a local youth group outing to Prince Edward Island, my husband somehow {to this day, I don’t know how} convinced me that I should ride a roller coaster, and that I would surely love it. So….after hemming and hawing, I did it. As soon as it took off, I knew I had made a mistake. I hated every minute of that terrifying ride. My head felt like it might explode. I felt {ahem} a bit angry that I got sucked into such an awful experience. One of our teens kept yelling back to me that “this is the next to last biggest loop” and then “this is the last biggest loop.” It didn’t help. I stepped off that car vowing to never, under any circumstances, ride one of those contraptions again. I prefer to keep my feet safely on the ground.

I don’t know about you, but I see in my heart a pendulum swing between safety and risk. I almost always choose safety in the physical realm when I’m given the choice. Then there are times in the spiritual realm when I embrace risk, delight in the unknown, and ask God for a life that demands faith for my very existence. But before I realize it, my heart has crept back into self protection, safe living, and a predictable existence…

All the while forgetting that security is an illusion.

We all know it is. Knowing the news or hearing the stories of sickness, accidents, and death all around us is a constant reminder. Yet we somehow think that we can create a bubble of safety around our carefully built lives. Then we stand guard, ready to catch any brick that comes dislodged, ready to dodge the rain and the lightning. Making noise of our own so we don’t hear the thunder.

We are really creating an illusion. And we are losing our life in the process. Jesus told us first that it would be this way. He knows our human tendencies to spend our days saving our own lives.

But He also knows the secret- that life is only valuable when it’s spent, given away and not saved.

The thought of risk seems like a thrill, an adventure at first. Then someone else knocks and upon opening the door, we meet Fear.

Fear says, “No! Better not do that, reach out to that person, say that, dream that, pray that. Better be safe. Better not risk disappointment, rejection, pain, unfulfilled dreams. Better not anything.”

What Fear doesn’t tell us is that after we shove him aside, armed with grace, there is supreme joy there. God’s hand is at work there. Miracles are born there. Answered prayers are there.  What a surprising turn of events. Once again, the irony of God’s ways turn the world’s views upside down. At times His ways make us look like fools and definitely damage our safety.

I’m not a risk taker by nature. I don’t like deep water or steep cliffs or shy diving or zip lines or thrill rides. My legs feel weak when I stand at the edge of Niagara Falls and think about the people who have gone over in a barrel {by choice, even}. My stomach drops when I think about standing on the glass floor or tightrope walking the outside edge of the CN Tower in Toronto. When I climbed our lighthouse in Nova Scotia some years ago, I had to stop halfway up and do labour breathing in order to give birth to that experience. I like to be safe. In physical life, that’s ok. It doesn’t matter if I sit on the sidelines and watch everyone else take the risks.

But in the spiritual realm, it does matter. If we want to be used by God, we have to allow the risks. More than just allow, we have to choose them, even embrace them. Because that is where the physical and spiritual realms meet.

That is where living by faith becomes real.

I can’t seem to think about this topic without relating it to ministry. I openly admit that, as a pastor’s wife, I’ve lived risky and I’ve lived safe. Sometimes one creates an equal or opposite reaction to the other. Ministry is full of risks, and perhaps the pull to safety is strongest for those of us who lead:

You risk criticism when you take an unpopular stand or step out to do something God has called you to do.

You risk more hurt when you open your heart to someone who has closed theirs to you.

You risk everything you know when you make a major life change.

You risk the established rhythm of your family by opening your home to foster care or adoption.

You risk relationship unknowns by reaching out to someone who hates you.

You risk rejection when you share the Gospel.

You risk misunderstanding when you live transparently.

You risk brokenness by being vulnerable and sharing your story.

In the cross centered, Christ centered life, at times you risk everything. Put it all on the line. Have no idea how it will play out, work out, turn out.

Our family has embraced many risks in the past few years. Some of them I’ve shared and some I haven’t yet. With each one, there is always a process…

The prompting to take the risk {from God}

Then fear {from satan}

The strength to push through the fear {from God}….and…

The joy and amazement on the other side of the fear {from God}

Then discouragement and doubt {from satan}

The reassurance {from God}

Do you see the pattern? The push and pull of the Godly and the ungodly.

The determination to risk, and then the beckon of comfort and safety. The world screams at us, tells us we can have comfort and safety, that we deserve it, even. No wonder our flesh craves it. But God woos our spirits gently, folding us close and presenting the risk, along with the promise of His presence.

Oh, may we choose risk every time. With the promise of Christ’s leading and presence, what is there to lose? If you lose your life, it is safe with God after all. See? There really is safety waiting for us. It’s just not always here on earth, not always in our hearts or our relationships or our churches or our ministries or even with our families and friends.

“For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.“Matthew 16:25

You want to follow Christ? Then you’re called to take risks. The two cannot be separated.

What risk is God calling you to today? Embrace it.

But not without grace.


A Kindred Spirit

3 thoughts on “Ministry Musings: You Are Called to Take Risks

  1. Leah, just what I needed today for decisions we are making. Thank you for allowing God to use you for His purposes.

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