What Is the Nature of Risk?

How do you assess the risks you are taking, in ministry and in life?

A few weeks ago I wrote about Laird Hamilton, the big-wave surfer. When I used him as an example in a sermon, someone recommended to me the movie Riding Giants, a documentary about big-wave surfers, including Hamilton. It’s a remarkable movie, and amazing to see the kind of risks these surfers take, truly risking their lives for their sport. Is it brave or is it foolhardy? They achieve amazing feats. And occasionally, one of them dies.

One physician interviewed, who surfs the big waves off the shore of Half Moon Bay in Northern California, says he works with cancer patients. He sees the way cancer enables them to get greater clarity about what is important to them and discard what is unnecessary. He sees surfing as doing the same thing for him.

Ministry without risk may be no ministry at all. But it’s always possible to risk everything and lose. How far we push ourselves in this direction probably has something to do with our position in our families. I suspect older children (a majority of clergy) are more inclined to play it safe.

What are your thoughts on taking risks in ministry?

2 replies on “What Is the Nature of Risk?

  • Israel Galindo

    Timidity is not a quality of leadership, but courage is.

    The timid, who fail to embrace risk, never move ahead, grow, or are able to provide the challenges necessary to deal with the things leaders face daily: pushing against homeostasis (ennui, reticence, entrenchment), weathering changes, facing threats, dealing with sabotage, containing toxicity, confronting the willful, making tough decisions, and practicing persistence of vision.

    To accept the job of being a leader is to accept that taking risks comes with the job.

    Good post, Margaret. Thanks.


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