Wisdom – How Do I Balance Comfort and Risk?

I have talked about my two year old, Caleb, a few times since we started this blog. One of the things that I love so much about him is his sense of adventure. He loves being outside and helping with our animals, so almost evening he and I go out to feed and water (the picture below is Caleb and his first little calf). Yesterday morning, I came around the corner and he had climbed clear to the top of a cattle panel, hanging on to the corner post waiting for me to help him climb down!

As a parent of a toddler, it’s been an interesting experience in determining risk. It would be considerably easier to just keep him in the house and never let him ride his bike in the driveway for fear of getting into the road, but at some point I have to decide what risks are necessary to take. I would never put him in a position that I knew he would get hurt, but how do I balance his safety (and my comfort) and allowing him to take risks. This certainly won’t stop once he’s out of diapers (also a risky move). As he gets older the risks continue to come, as I am soon to discover I’m sure.

You and I have risks in our own life that we deal with every day. Between waking up this morning and getting to work, there are risks all over the place: I pushed the snooze button…and risked not getting up on time; I chose to drive my car…risked getting into a wreck; I grabbed McDonald’s breakfast burritos for breakfast…there are obvious risks there too!

Relationally – when we put ourselves out there for someone and allow one to truly know us, we risk getting hurt. This is why so many people don’t allow anyone to see who they truly are. So often our relationships never go beyond surface level because we tried to let someone in and that trust was abused and never again to be given.

In our work, we deal with potential risks every day. If this project is successful, it can be very profitable, but what if it fails? I see something going on that is against our values or unethical, but what will happen to me if I speak up? I have an idea, but what if they think it’s stupid and they embarrass me in front of my co-workers?

When I am faced with these circumstances and many others, the first place I go to is prayer. I pray for wisdom, that God would direct my thoughts and actions in a direction that is honoring to Him. And then I pray for courage. Courage to step out of my comfort zone and be a risk-taker for things that matter.

As I was thinking about risks, my mind went back about two thousand years ago. Jesus approached 12 ordinary men, and asked them to take a risk – to leave their lives and their careers – and follow him. Now that’s risky. But think of the eternal significance from such a choice. Jesus tells his disciples in Matthew 16:24, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”

This year we have been going through the Book of Proverbs for His Truth, focusing on “wisdom”. I have quoted William Arthur Ward a few times, and I have to say that many of his thoughts and quotes have really inspired me to live differently. I found a piece he wrote on risk that I will close with:

To laugh is to risk appearing a fool,
To weep is to risk appearing sentimental.
To reach out to another is to risk involvement,
To expose feelings is to risk exposing your true self.
To place your ideas and dreams before a crowd is to risk their loss.
To love is to risk not being loved in return,
To live is to risk dying,
To hope is to risk despair,
To try is to risk failure.
But risks must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.
The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, is nothing.
He may avoid suffering and sorrow,
But he cannot learn, feel, change, grow or live.
Chained by his servitude he is a slave who has forfeited all freedom.
Only a person who risks is free.
— To Risk - William Arthur Ward