Before you answer this question you probably want some more information. I imagine you would want to know the nature of the risk, the possible consequences and possible gains of taking it, and probably the extent of the involvement or commitment that would be required from you. Once you had all this information, you would probably want to take some time to process it and come to a decision before you delivered your answer.
Taking a risk is not easy, but we take them them everyday. The key is to take the right risk and leave the wrong ones alone.
Risk is Often Misunderstood
Webster’s defines risk as “the possibility of loss or injury; someone or something that creates or suggests a hazard; the possibility that something bad or unpleasant (such as an injury or a loss) will happen.” This common understanding of risk tells us that risk is to be avoided, that nothing good can come from it, that it is not safe to approach.
Risk, though, is an essential ingredient of personal growth. To accomplish anything for the first time, we must take a risk. I would like to define risk as moving forward in the face of potential consequences. “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me” Ps. 23:4, NASB.
Two Types of Risk
When you take a risk you put yourself in a place of receiving a potential negative consequence in order to experience a positive outcome.
To determine whether or not a risk is worth taking, ask yourself these two questions: 1) what is the likelihood of me experiencing the negative consequence and what is the severity of the consequence? and 2) what is the likelihood of this risk to help me experience a positive outcome?
Both the consequence and the outcome must be real, but the risk itself can either be real or perceived.
A perceived risk is a situation in which the actual possibility of a negative consequence occurring is very low, although it is considered to be very high in the mind of the person taking on the risk, and the severity of the consequence is high.
A real risk is a situation in which both the possibility of the consequence and the severity of the consequence is high, although the possibility of the consequence occurring is often low in the mind of the person taking the risk. A person taking a real risk could be considered reckless.
Perceived risks will help you to grow and should be embraced. Real risks will present you with a possibly significant set-back and are to be avoided.
Personal Growth Through Risk Taking
Personal growth comes through embracing opportunities to challenge your understanding of reality by taking perceived risks. By exposing yourself to this type of risk, you are required to stretch your perceptions in order to enter into the unknown — that is, what has been previously unknown to you. A mentor, teacher, or coach can facilitate this experience and save you a lot of time in this process.
Kenny Loggins has a wonderful lyric that goes, “Here’s an old saying that I just made up.” Well, I’ve got one of my own, here it is:
The new things are the hard things until they become the old things which are the easy things.
Why do the new things you are required to do seem so difficult? And after you have done them for awhile, why do they seem easier to do? I believe a helpful answer lies in this concept of risk taking.
The ability to navigate risk requires wisdom and judgment. Another old saying, that I didn’t make up, goes, “Good judgment is gained through experience; experience is gained through poor judgment.” The potential for risk seems higher when you are in unfamiliar territory with no connection through personal experience (e.g. the valley of the shadow of death, Ps. 23:4).
Exposure puts you at risk. And, put the other way round, taking a risk requires you to open yourself up to a certain degree of exposure. People often attribute the emotion of fear to the act of taking a risk, although taking a risk does not generate fear. It is the threat of exposure, inherent in taking the risk, that generates fear. This subtle distinction shines the light of clarity upon this discussion, allowing you to identify the true cause of your fears, giving you the ability to overcome their debilitating hold upon your life.
Think of a time when you struggled with taking a risk. Where did the fear that you fought against come from?
I recently heard Ravi Kandal speak. He is a young pastor from India with an incredible testimony and ministry releasing the power of God’s supernatural presence.. From his understanding of living in the supernatural, he teaches how to gain freedom and imparts breakthrough for living beyond fear. Here’s what I learned from him that has changed the way I look at risk-taking.
For Christians, the real risk is living in the flesh, doing things by own will. The consequences for this behavior are negative–severe and real, yet we often rationalize our actions in order to minimize the consequences of these risks in our own thinking. This behavior is reckless.
Our perceived risk is living by the Spirit, doing things God’s way. The consequences for this behavior are positive—rewards beyond measure, yet we often hesitate to act on a notion that we have heard from a being that we cannot see. This behavior is unbelief.
Why do we consistently take the real risk of selfish behavior that leads to certain negative consequences and avoid the perceived risk of selfless behavior that leads to a fulfilled life?
Two mission statements (Jn. 10:10)
The devil comes to kill steal and destroy, every time. The devil comes to remind you of your past because he doesn’t know your future. He wants you to continually repeat your mistakes, to continually do the old things because they are the easy things.
Jesus came that we might have life and have it more abundantly, all the time. The Father doesn’t remember your past, it is separated from Him as far as the east is from the west (Ps. 103:12). He comes to reveal to you your future. The Spirit wants to show the new things.
Ravi showed me that fear is the result of my wrong thinking. I experience fear when I listen to the lies of the enemy. I experience faith when I chose to listen to the voice of my heavenly Father. My experience of fear or faith is my indicator of who I am listening to.
Breakthrough is only a matter of choosing to listen to your heavenly Father by faith.
A New Way to Live
Why do the new things seem so hard? Because our minds inform us, based on our past experience, that this new thing is unknown, and therefore, risky. The mind only knows what it has experienced in the past. It has no grid for the future.
God’s Word and His Spirit tells us something different. He will always communicate with us based on the future development of our identity in Him. His ways are secure. He already knows the future. He is inviting us to join Him in His creative process to bring us into becoming the people we were created to be. The outcome is guaranteed! He will do it!
Be encouraged to lean into the perceived risk of embracing the love of the Father. Allow Him to take you into your future. In Him, the outcome is guaranteed! He will do it!
Has this post impacted you? I’d love to hear your story.
Photo Credit: www.sweetonveg.com/2011/05/take-a-chance/