Two years ago I quit my job just 15 days after our second child was born.
I’m shaking my head as I re-read that last sentence.
What was I thinking? What a risk to take at the worst possible time! And what made it even crazier is I wasn’t quitting to take a better job, or any job for that matter. I was quitting so I could pour my best efforts into my little blog and podcast on Christian productivity—which at the time was providing $0 of income to my family.
It was a big risk.
Confident as I was in the mission of Redeeming Productivity, I still had no idea how it could support our family. But, bathed in prayer and bolstered by the boldness that comes from sleep deprivation and a remarkably supportive wife, I took the plunge.
Now just two years later, it seems like I’m finally tasting some of the reward from that risk. 3 books, 10,000 subscribers on YouTube, 6,000 newsletter readers, half a dozen courses, a 200 members academy, a coaching program, and a massively supportive community of like-minded believers. I’m not sharing any of that to brag, but to illustrate that the risk is paying off. Everyday I get to help thousands of people gain a more God-honoring perspective on personal productivity. It’s all the result of the Lord’s blessing and one very big, very difficult, very risky decision to go all in.
As I was thinking this week about that decision I made two years ago, I was amused to discover that I had done a podcast episode on risk tolerance just two months before I took that leap of faith. Clearly the subject was on my mind!
In that episode I laid out 5 principles I use when thinking about big decisions and risk/reward. But since then I’ve slowly been adding to a note I have titled “thoughts on risk” and I wanted to share some of the principles from that list that I use when thinking about risky decisions.
10 thoughts on taking God-glorifying risks
- You take risks every day. You just don’t call them risks because they are familiar. Which means…
- Refusing to change is not necessarily the safest route, it just feels the safest because it’s familiar. The risk of staying the course is the risk of lost opportunity. In other words, not deciding is deciding and there are no safe decisions. To live is to live with risk.
- You’ve already taken the biggest risk of all to follow Christ. You’ve died to self, trusted in Jesus, and that has secured your eternity. Everything else, by comparison, is just a little risk. And the downside of any risk is capped by your security in Christ. In other words…
- Risks taken for God, according to His will, are no risks at all. We calculate whether a risk was worth it based on the results. But even if a risk taken for Christ has such a negative return that it literally kills you, when its outcome is calculated on the eternal timeline, it still ends up having been worth it. That’s why Paul could say, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21).
- Risk-tolerance is an asset not a liability. In an age of risk-aversion, having the boldness to take calculated risks is valuable skill. And it’s a skill you can learn.
- Risk-tolerance is a muscle. In our culture of safteyism most of us have let the risk muscle atrophy. But the more you take calculated leaps of faith and see that things tend to work out, the braver you become.
- Optimism grounded in Christ’s promises creates risk tolerance. Christians should be the most optimistic people in the world. We have the promises of Christ. And that optimism should make us less fearful to take God-honoring risks in our work and lives.
- Risk is the only reliable pathway to reward. “Nothing ventured nothing gained,” “fortune favors the bold,” these are popular sayings because they tend to be true across domains of life.
- Risk is a necessary aspect of stewardship. In the Parable of the Talents the master’s expectation of the stewards was that they would invest the assets entrusted to them in order to improve them. But ever investment is a risk. It’s the steward who took no risk, but instead buried his talent in the ground, who was chastised and cast out.
- Often the riskiest decision you can make is to stay right where you are. You can most accurately predict the outcome of your current trajectory. And if it’s not an outcome you want, then to stay on that course isn’t safe at all, it’s insanely foolish.
Please don’t take any of this as advice to act unwisely. I’m not here talking about hasty risk, but calculated risk with the aim of leading a more God-glorifying life—things like a career transition, for example.
I think for most of us our problem isn’t recklessness but cowardice. We spend so much time wringing our hands over decisions when we already know the right answer. We just don’t have the guts to take the risk.
“What if it doesn’t work out?”
But what if it does?