Risk-Taking Without Authority and Common Sense is Dumb

Imagine your risk was actually a matter of life or death. Literally, the risk would afford you the opportunity to die.

Visualize yourself running from droves of irate mobsters (whose cars you walked too close to) while simultaneously closing in on a precipitous cliff. Your only two options are to jump off the cliff—falsely hoping there might be water or a shallow drop—or to surrender to the mobsters, knowing they’d likely pummel your face to the dirt. Risking your life with the cliff dive would only make common sense if a trustworthy authority told you to. As it happens, your closest friend works as a helicopter pilot for a local news station and as the seconds become microseconds, he confidently shouts from within his aircraft, “Jump! You’ll be alright!” Suddenly, Russian roulette loses its painful grip of fear, and off you go, deferring your cudgeling to another day.

People are always taking unpredictable risks. At Wal-Mart, for example, one might think hopping on another line will reduce your stay in that overgrown Bodega, but sometimes it doesn’t. Additionally, gambling your beauty sleep at the cost of a socializing late the night before isn’t always worth it.

Chancing your life opportunities are best accomplished when a reliable authority has given you a sensible okay. This doesn’t mean things will always work out, though!

One failed risk Jenn, my wife of one year, and I endured was the loss of our car. In preparing for a five-week trip to Florida, we had to decide whether we would fly or drive. Counting all the costs, driving emerged as the better course of action. Furthermore, several of our friends and family acted as authorities who all had driven to Florida, saying the same mantra: “The drive is grueling but having a car there is great.” So we drove. Then we crashed, totaling our car, which I had foolishly covered with a bare minimal liability policy. We got nothing. Not even a phone call from our insurance! That risk did us dirty, but the unknown outcome of risks defines them.

Currently, we’re risking our vocations. As Christians, we feel a deep calling to lovingly labor full-time as university missionaries with Jersey Metro, a division of Campus Crusade for Christ. In order to accomplish this, we have to raise a support goal that includes everything: our salaries, benefits, business expenses, even social security costs. Our employer, like other non-profits, covers nothing. This was absolutely a risk, but through several confirming and affirming circumstances, we decided to take Jesus at his word and believe he’d raise our support with us. Not only this, but over 25,000 staff members with our organization have all raised their support. It’s not a risk of impossibility or foolishness. We get to pursue our dream with full authoritative assurance (from on high) and absolute common sense.

So before you repel down the side of a skyscraper, make sure it’s authorized and sensible, lest its outcome be something like serious jail time.

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