Before tackling risky business, it helps to know what you're prepared to handle.
January 1, 1987
Former world-champion surfer Phil Edwards once commented, "There is a need in all of us for controlled danger, for an activity that puts us on the edge of life."
Most pastors find that edge-of-life risk, whether they want to or not, in the difficult decisions they're forced to make. Instituting a new program, confronting a wayward member, hiring a staff person, removing an ineffective worker-these are high-stakes initiatives that may cost a minister not only sleep but a job.
LEADERSHIP set out to discover what happens when pastors make risky decisions, and after an extensive survey and scores of interviews with both the survivors and casualties, Terry Muck combined their hard-won insights into a book, When to Take a Risk: A Guide to Pastoral Decision Making (LEADERSHIPWORD, 1987). The following is an excerpt.
I. D. Thomas, in A Word from the Wise, tells the story of a Georgia farmer living in a dilapidated shack. He hadn't planted anything, so nothing needed to be cultivated. The farmer just sat, ragged and barefoot, surrounded by the evidence of his laziness.
A stranger stopped for a drink of water and asked, "How's your cotton doing?"
"Ain't got none," replied the farmer.
"Didn't you plant any?"
"Nope. 'Fraid of boll weevils."
"Well," continued the visitor, "how's your corn?"
"Didn't plant none. 'Fraid there wasn't gonna be no rain."
"How are your potatoes?"
"Ain't got none. Scared of potato bugs."
"Really? What did you plant?"
"Nothin'," was the reply. "I just played safe."
The church leader who never takes risks quickly finds: No risks, no returns.
The Bible supplies many instances of this Law of Risklessness. Proverbs predicts the nonrewards the sluggard can expect. Jesus' parable of the talents rests on the futility of trying to ...