A little risky business

I have a confession to make.

Many think that because I am a public speaker and a leader that that I am a bold individual. They assume the stage persona that delivers the weekly message is the same guy wandering around my house.

Well, I hope I am the same kind of man with the same kind of character both in and out of the spotlight. But, truthfully, my persona on stage is not the same as it is when “the switch is off.”

That’s why it always cracks me up to have people say to my wife, “Wow, it must be a real blessing to be married to him. You’re probably laughing all the time!”

Her response is usually a very dry, “Yeah… he’s a real riot.”

In fact, one of the secrets to my message/sermon preparation is that 90% of the lessons I teach, I am delivering to myself. I feel them because I need them.

So, what about this confession I need to make?

I am not as bold as I want to be, or even as I should be. Often, I am afraid to take risk.

In fact, all through junior high… and high school… and college… I guess my whole life… I never asked a girl out. At least not the first ask.

Way too afraid of rejection!

Consequently, I didn’t date very much and you may be wondering how I ever got married. Just let me say arranged marriages are wonderful!

Just kidding. My parents could never have afforded the dowry on Kathy.

In our history Kathy asked me out first (lunch at Long John Silvers, we’ve always been classy), Kathy kissed me first (extremely romantic and no, you can’t know anymore than that), but she did draw the line at the marriage proposal. Apparently, that was my job.

Even then, after years of friendship and dating, and knowing this was God’s woman for me, I was still chicken.

I took several dry runs in the month or two preceding our engagement asking questions like, “So, if I were to ask you to marry me, what would you say?”

Ah, I can still remember the love and pity in her eye each time I’d ask.

I think I made up for it though when I finally did ask, it was in front of her whole family (all 97 million of them) at the annual Oklahoma Christmas gathering.

She was impressed. And, my thought was, “She can’t say no there!”

What is it about the vast majority of us that we struggle to take the necessary risks that make life worth living? Not stupid risks, or risks for the sake of risk, but risk that is pointed in the right direction with a real chance of getting us where we need to go.

The best stuff in my life has come from those white-knuckled moments, griping the railing while your stomach does flip flops and your mind races faster than words can express just before the jump.

  • Risking marriage when both of us came from broken homes and the success of marriage was highly questionable.
  • Risking career when I switched from journalism to ministry and all of the rolled eyes that told me I was crazy and it was just a phase.
  • Risking everything from financial hardship to decades of stress to potential heartbreak as we decided to become parents.

All of these were terrifying at the on set, but after taking the leap, I cannot imagine my life without these and a thousand other necessary risks.

I was challenged by this fact again at a conference I attend annual called The Creative Church Conference (C3). Although there were a hundred moments of potential life change, there was one in particular that I could not shake, and I really don’t want to.

Dr. Sam Chand spoke on the 7 areas of capacity we have to enlarge if we want to get out of ourspiritual, mental and emotional ruts. We literally have to work on expanding our capacity for these seven things, if we are going to have the capacity to do anything of consequence.

I don’t have the time, space or desire to completely rob Dr. Chand of his material, to discuss all seven areas, but the one that really hit me… you guessed it: risk capacity.

Leaders (and I would say anyone who wants to be a liver – not a bodily organ, but someone who wants to live) have got to intentionally increase their risk capacity.

How many times have I second-guessed myself, my friends and co-laborers and even my God because I feared rejection, failure or embarrassment? Worse, how many times have I missed the greatest of opportunities, or wasted some serious mileage by circling the airport instead of taking it in and landing that sucker?

I’ve already seen that the greatest things I have in my life have come from risky decisions, so, why wouldn’t I want to increase my risk capacity? When I do, I increase my capacity to be blessed, move quickly, take new ground and do something with the few years I’ve been given!

Dr Chand said, “If you’re 100% sure, you’re already too late. Go play in traffic!”

When he said those words I felt a fire in my bones. I could look back in the last year or two and see several places where as a pastor I have let my risk capacity shrink to a debilitating place.

Our church has grown from 140 to 1,700+ in seven years and moved from one campus to a multisite ministry with six campuses in five cities. It’s been awesome, but here we sit 6 weeks before Easter with a huge problem.

We’re looking at the biggest number in the history of our church headed our way, and we don’t have anywhere to put them. We’ve known about it for months and have talked, prayed, studied, reported and done nothing.

I feel like a scientist standing on the beach watching a tsunami come in while looking back at the crowd around me only to say, “See, I told you we were all going to die.”

Thanks Captain Helpful. Why don’t you take your sidekick Boy Obvious and come up with another brilliant statement of utter fact.

I can pinpoint at least two times in the last year that we should have taken the risk. But, we didn’t want to offend, move to quickly, not be smart, or… take a chance.

Man, I sure hope God gives us another, chance that is. I am so ready to take it.

Dr. Chand said, “Aim, Aim, Aim… pull the trigger man!”

I’m ready, are you?

The Bible is replete with stories of God’s blessing being poured out on those who take risks, or are limited by the too-small capacities of those receiving it.

  • Luke 5 – the miraculous catch of fish was awesome, but the nets broke and the boats were sinking. There were a lot more fish in the ocean, but these guys were at their capacity.
  • John 4 – the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. It’s not about the harvest; it is about the capacity of the harvester.
  • Isaiah 54 – “Enlarge the place of your tent, and let the curtains of your habitations be stretched out; do not hold back; lengthen your cords and strengthen your stakes. For you will spread abroad to the right and to the left, and your offspring will possess the nations and will people the desolate cities.The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Is 54:2–3.

Dear God, may You forgive us for the times we looked at the wind and waves when we could have been walking on water. And whether its in our career, our ministry or our personal life, please help us to increase our risk capacity so that we may see more of You in us.! Help us to say yes to the things You’d have us say yes to when everything inside of us is screaming no. In Jesus name!

I am hopeful that God’s hand of blessing will not have to leave our faith community because we/I lacked the courage to follow God in the past year or two. I am hopeful that He is still waiting for us feel our heart race, our hair raise and for us to leap into the uncertain! Right where He has been all along.

A few years ago leaving a men’s conference I had been speaking at, all the guys were shaking hands, packing up and heading out. I heard a hundred times, “See you soon, be safe.” But, there was one guy (there’s always one guy, isn’t there?) who set the bar a little higher.

As he said goodbye he kept repeating, “Drive fast, take risks.”

Do it baby! It’s time to take that risk.

__________________________

For what it’s worth, here are some of the highlights from the C3 conference we attended. It was beyond fantastic. Enjoy.

Bishop TD “Hear God & who cares what anyone else says.”

Leon Fontaine “We don’t need to pray down the power of God, we need uninsulated hearts, bare wires exposed to Him & His power for.”

Ed Young Sr  “Anybody that’s available all the time isn’t available any of the time (Dr Trueblood) & come apart before you come apart.”

David Hughes “Pastors need to have a big “ask.” Ask people to show up, be generous, the mature to self feed, be loyal, work hard, etc.”

Ed Young  “If we have been radically rescued, we should rescue radically & the church’s target is not sheeple but lost people.”

Sam Chand “Risk Capacity: when you’re 100% sure you are too late! Go play in traffic. Aim, aim, aim.. pull the trigger already man!”

Young John Cross “You can get there too soon. Your gifts can take you where your character can’t keep you. Don’t despise small beginnings!”

Ed Young “Haters always run in packs, like dogs & don’t put the negative/opposition on the rotisserie grill of your mind.”

Ed Young “When you have opportunity you’ll have opposition AND in a leadership vacuum the wrong people always rise to the top.”

Ed Young “When you go to a whole nutha level, you unleash a whole nutha devil.”

Ed Young Sr “A leader is someone who steps out and others step out behind them. If this happens alot, then it’s the gift of leadership”

Ed Young Sr “You always get the loudest boos from the cheapest seats.”

Ed Young Sr “All are called to fulltime Christian service, some in the church and some outside the church.”

Jentezen Franklin “Hell has done nothing to you that God cannot work out for you!”

Jentezen Franklin “God is greater than any circumstance, so, I have not come to give you leaders a pacifier. Learn to fly!”

Jentezen Franklin “Some days you’re the big dog, some days you’re the hydrant, but don’t give up! You were made for this!”

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