Greater Risk

I have not met too many people who were successful without risk. In fact, most people who excel have initiated some type of risk. Whether small or great, anyone who wants to do anything significant must not be “risk allergic.” That’s the place we get to when we stop taking risks. Risks create adventure, excitement and the unknown.


Jesus comes across a blind man. Here is his response – “Then he spit on the ground, made mud with the saliva, and spread the mud over the blind man’s eyes” (John 9:6). This had to look insane from the outside – but it worked. Crazy to think. “Hey Jesus, I am blind. Why don’t you make some mud out of your spit and dirt. Then rub it on my eyes.” Not sure that would have been the normal response. But that’s what Jesus did.

There may be times when you decide to do something and everyone says, “That’s nuts.” That may be the exact place you need to go, as a leader. I have seen in my ministry that most of the things I have tried others would not have attempted. When Mary first started Church Unleashed – everyone told us, “Don’t do it. Long Island is the graveyard for church plants.” Today, 9 1/2 years later, we are glad we looked a little insane.


Over the years I have had the privilege of meeting so many people. Most of which are good, but very few risk takers. They travel a similar path to others and hope for different results. Here’s the reality – If we want to leave a mark on this world we have to be pro-risk. Part of the adventure of life is taking calculated risks.

Jesus and his disciples are on a boat. A storm rises. The disciples are freaking out. Where is Jesus?  He is sleeping. Totally relaxed. He asks them a question: “Why are you so afraid?” Then he gets up and “rebuked the wind and waves … suddenly it was calm” (Matthew 8:26). They were upset at Jesus – but they did not try and “rebuke the wind and waves.” Just before this moment Jesus says something powerful to his disciples: “You of little faith.” In other words, you sat their complaining and did nothing. Faith in your pocket cannot accomplish anything.


One of the greatest examples of risk is Esther. She had positioned herself in an awkward place. She knew she was the only one who could protect her people from slaughter. Here’s the verse everyone loves to quote, “Who knows perhaps I came into this place for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14). She took a risk, approached the king. Here’s the part many do not quote. Two verses later her declaration was, “If I perish, I perish” (Esther 4:16).  She took a risk. It paid off. She saved her entire nation.

My amazing bride says this often: “God did not call us to a life of comfort.” Now that does not mean we don’t want or have nice things – but we are constantly putting ourselves into a position to be stretched. The journey of starting our church has been a journey of risk – but the reward has been so powerful. We started this dream with hope. Today we are leading a multi-site church on Long Island and have seen over 1700 people give their lives to Jesus. It was worth the risk.


This is the moment where most people decide to be “risk allergic.” They resist the urge to take a risk because they are afraid of the outcome. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego took a big risk in public view. The king demanded everyone to bow and worship him. They refused. They were committed to worshipping only God. They stood up for God. Nothing would happen to them. Well, the king sends them into a furnace of fire – heated 7 times hotter than normal.

Catch this: When you attempt things for God you have put yourself in the fire. The enemy will try and attack, destroy and eliminate you. The only thing is no matter how much he tries he cannot stop you. You are a child of God. That’s the faith these 3 Hebrew men had. When faced with a furnace of fire they declared, “Our God is able to deliver us … but if not …” (Daniel 3:16). They were okay with their furnace. Taking risks are not always easy – but they are necessary.


Too many people play it safe. They choose to go with the flow, roll with majority and seldom do anything culture shaping. I love what John Wayne once said, “Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway.” What has God called you to do? Are you afraid? Good. Because if you’re not – it may not be big enough. Do you have a dream of launching an orphanage overseas or starting an anti-bullying initiative or playing professional sports or preaching to millions? Go after something worth more.

Get a dream bigger than yourself. You see living a risk-less life is selfish – but a risk-filled life is service. Those who risk for the sake of others or the bigger picture are the true heroes of our generation.

Abraham. He was told by God to move. Where? He had no idea. Scripture says, “…he went without knowing where he was going” (Hebrews 11:8). That sounds insane. Who would go anywhere without Siri telling them directions? Abraham just took it day by day. He trusted God. He became the father of many nations. His descendants as vast as the sand on the coast or the stars in the sky. But it all started with “I don’t know where I am going.”

Four Questions to Ponder:

  1. What risks do I need to take?
  2. What have I been holding on to that I am supposed to let go of?
  3. What is my greatest fear?
  4. What is my greatest hope?


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