Wednesdays with Jillene: worth the risk

“You have to decide that it is worth the risk. Worth what you will give up. Worth what you might lose. Worth what someone could say about you. Worth the time you’ll sacrifice. Worth all the potential risks.”

Is it worth the risk?

Maybe it’s because of my occupation aaaannnnnd probably a lot more than just a little is due to my personality… but I’ve lived with that question for years: Is it worth the risk?

Risk Management

A topic I’ve been trained in and one I’ve been training staff in for a long time now. I say it year after year, “Camp is risky business.” Looking at it from all the angles, that is just the truth. And we, in the business of youth ministry, live with the constant correlation of safety <—> risk. When you are in the business of life-changing ministry, especially to teens, the most risk-taking age group, well… you’re in the business of managing risk. But also of cultivating risk. It takes risk to grow. (Just look at a baby as they are learning to walk.)

So in youth ministry/camping ministry we are constantly evaluating safety and risk. If we want to help people grow then risk is required. If we keep things 100% safe then there is no room for growth. On the flip side, we can allow so much risk that people get hurt and growth can’t happen either.

So, it is a balancing act: safety <—> risk

Sometimes it is better to play it safe. Sometimes it is worth the risk. Sometimes I am wrong on both accounts.

But we have to make that decision: Is it worth the risk?

Saying, “Yes. Yes, it is worth the risk.” Is a decision to move forward accepting the risks. What are the “risks?” At times that means someone won’t be happy. Other times it means opening the possibility that someone can get hurt. It could be that the activity will be a failure. Might mean we lose money.

Those are tough decisions to make. Those should be tough decisions, made after much consideration, for sure.

But it isn’t just my career that requires me to ask myself, “Is it worth the risk?”

Oh no, daily… hourly, sometimes by the minute I face that question… because… life is risky business. Some risks are so small we don’t see them any longer. Other risks so big that the risks are all we see. And we make a choice: Is the risk worth it?

And then… days come when we ask ourselves, “Why? Why did I choose to do this? Why did I take this risk?” Because, the thing about deciding that the risk is worth it… is well, the risk part. Saying, “Yes, it is worth the risk,” may well mean experiencing some of those risks.

  • It may mean you fail.
  • It may mean someone doesn’t like you.
  • It may mean you get hurt.

And when that happens… and we are sitting there dealing with the consequence of the risk we may find ourselves thinking, “I didn’t sign up for this! If I had known the risks I wouldn’t have chosen to do this.”

Maybe that’s true. Then again, maybe we forgot why the risk was worth it in the beginning. We sure are forgetful people. Perhaps, we are “contextual rememberers”… meaning, context sure changes how we remember… what we remember.

Sitting in the desert, the Israelites thought some pretty funny things about their past and present situation. 

“2 In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. 3 The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.”

They’d forgotten why it was worth the risk as Moses led them in following the Lord. Experiencing the risks can make us second guess our decisions. But we didn’t decide it was safe, we decided it was worth the risk.

And it wasn’t just Moses and the Israelites that face risks when following God.

We make the choice that it is worth the risks too.

  • Is it worth it to follow God if it means some people won’t like us?
  • Is it worth it to follow God if it means we have to give up things?
  • Is it worth it to follow God if it means we have to be accountable?
  • Is it worth it to follow God if it means we need to choose purity?
  • Is it worth it to follow God if it means we will be transformed?
  • Is it worth it to follow God if it means we will surrender our will to Him?
  • Is it worth it to follow God if it means daily dying to ourselves as we take up our cross and follow Him?

When we’ve spent the time learning who God is, we know that because of who God is it is worth all the risks.  And we say, “Yes God, I will follow you.”

What happens when we  come face-to-face with the realities of the risks we were willing to accept.

  • What happens when someone at work no longer respects us when they find our we’re a believer and we become a bit of a laughing stock?
  • What happens when we have to say no to going to an event with friends because we know it isn’t a place that leads us anywhere but away from God?
  • What happens when we’ve done something we shouldn’t and we need to confess that to our accountability partner and we’re worried about what will happen if they know the truth about us?
  • What happens when someone wrongs us and we just want to hurt their reputation to anyone who will listen and God challenges us to love them instead?

… the list goes on and on…

because we will encounter those moments and the question is: In that moment, how will I remember why it is all worth the risk?

Jesus’s words here are pretty hard hitting:

34 Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 35 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. 36 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?

Salvation is a gift, Ephesians 2 makes that clear, there is nothing we can do to earn it. When accept His salvation and we follow God, scripture is also clear that it changes everything. Romans 12:1-2 calls it being a living sacrifice, that we won’t look the same. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says that in Christ we are a new creation. In view of God’s great love for us and the amazing gift offered, we choose to follow God knowing that, though it changes everything, it is worth it.

As God draws us closer to himself, as his sanctification is worked deep within we can come face-to-face with what seem to be more risky decisions, times when what God maybe what we are facing in life has us asking: Is it worth the risk? Is there an area of your walk with God that feels risky to you? What decisions have you made that were “worth the risks”? How can you choose to remember the why so when times get tough you remember why it was worth it?

Some ideas from this past weekend: write it down and hang it on your wall. Put your worth the risk reason on a card and keep it in your pocket. Make it an image on your phone screen. Anyway around it, keep it near to  you so that when the temptation to give up comes a calling… you can stand firm in knowing it was worth the risk!





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