Some people love to take risks, and others hate it. Taking risks in ministry is necessary to follow where the Lord is leading and to do things in ways that expect God-sized results. The Book of Joshua shows a man and a nation willing to follow the Lord even when the instructions seemed risky and overwhelming. From trusting Rahab to crossing the Jordan to marching around a wall, they had to trust, and they had to take risks.
As the school year ends and the beginning of the summer season approaches, the time has come to evaluate last year and look to the next. What if the summer became a time of reflection, prayer, and preparation for a new year of risk-taking? Not risk-taking for the sake of risk, but rather risk-taking that follows the Lord.
Let’s consider three elements of risk-taking that put us in a place to hear from the Lord and follow where He wants us to go: asking, doing, and telling.
Have you asked the Lord what He wants to accomplish in your life and ministry lately? What if each of us spent some time away (this could be an hour or a day) asking the Lord to make His plans clear—asking for His dream and His design as we begin to plan for another year of ministry. One thing I have learned is that if I am going to ask, I must be prepared for the answer. Sometimes, the Lord has asked a lot of me. He’s also asked things which I think are crazy. But when the plan is God’s plan, it’s worth attempting and putting all the resources I can allocate behind it.
Once the Lord has spoken to our hearts, it’s time for action. Doing can be the hardest part of risk-taking. We must take steps to put the plan in action and must cast the vision in such a way that people will rally together for action steps. Personally, I find it easy to ask God and to dream about what He has shown me, but doing something about it means sharing with other people and risking what people think of the ministry and me. That’s thing about risk—it is an exposure to chance—the chance that someone may walk away from the ministry, the chance of losing leaders, the chance of losing a financial supporter, and the chance of hurting feelings. But, it’s also the chance to be obedient to the Lord. The “doing” portion of risk-taking is the make-or-break moment.
Finally, as we take risks, we must tell the story of what God has done. Even if the risk didn’t pay off in the ways we expected, telling the story shows that God is at work. It may give us a chance to learn to fail gracefully. However, how sweet the moment is when we get to share about all God did! Telling the story allows us to highlight God’s work in our ministries and His work in the lives of people. Some people are natural storytellers, and other people struggle to even weave a narrative. Each of us should grow as storytellers so we can share all that is happening in our lives and ministries.
As summer approaches, may each of us ask great things of the Lord, follow through with what He shows, and then tell the story every chance we get. May we be found faithful, like Joshua and the Israelites who found refuge in an unlikely place, crossed the river on dry land, and saw the power of walking in circles.
Dr. Beth Masters works with college students at Mississippi College where she is the Director of Christian Life and Ministries. She also serves as a Ministry-Based Faculty member at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary in the area of Collegiate Ministry. Beth loves young adults, baking, and coffee.