In the same imaginary town, God called two imaginary people to step out in faith to two separate (you guessed it, imaginary) ministries. For each of them, the idea was definitely outside of the comfort zone – a faith-based risk.
- Steve started behind the scenes. He was very prayerful in his approach and very diligent in his execution. But for weeks, he didn’t tell anyone about it, making only a vague reference to “God… doing something” when he was chatting with some people from his small group. When pressed, he said he “wasn’t ready to share just yet.” Ultimately, under conditions of strict secrecy, he told one friend. He asked his friend to keep it to himself because, really, how could he be sure it would work out as planned? No reason to get people all excited about this before there was any real confirmation that this was going to happen.
- On the other hand, Olivia began sharing her calling almost right away. Not with everyone, of course, but she started with close friends and family before expanding her circle gradually to include more people. Her rationale was simple. More people in the know meant more people to pray with her. More people to help get it started. More resources and support. And more accountability. Of course she considered the risk of looking silly if it all went sideways. But, for her, the benefits far outweighed that risk. She worked diligently on the ministry while also maintaining ties with what became a team of partners.
Nobody wants to fail. For some of us, the prospect of failure – particularly public failure – can keep us from stepping out in faith. Or, if we do step out, we may hesitate to go all-in. We may be more like Secret Steve than Open Olivia, concerned about what God’s call may do to our reputation rather than how to engage with it fully. I’ll admit – I’m like Steve more often than I’d care to tell you.
The biggest lesson I carry from this is that I would rather look foolish for following up on God’s calling in my own life than ignore that calling and maintain an image of having it all together. A similar idea can be seen in 1 Corinthians 1:26-29, quoted below from the ESV:
For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.
When considering faith-based risks, I would assert that approaching it more like Olivia will help us to see things differently. If we are truly trusting God with the results, then we’ll understand He can have just as much purpose in failure as He has in success. Maybe, failure in that sense is not really failure at all – just another step in our journey. For me, even though I trust in God’s direction, I hate the idea of things not going as planned. It feels like failure, even if I know it’s not.
But He’s still working on me. If we aren’t to boast in our successes, we surely should not despair in our failures. Instead…
Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.”
[Jeremiah 9:23-24, ESV]
What faith-based risk is God calling you to take?