Jesus regularly asked people to do difficult things. To the paralytic He said, “Pick up your bed and go.” (Matthew 9:6) To Peter He said, “Drop your nets and follow Me.” (Mark 1:18) He tells us to love our enemies, go the second mile, lose our lives, and pick up our cross daily and follow Him. His love is not a wimpy love. His faith was not for the faint at heart. His faith is a hard-nosed, risk-filled, dangerous (in a worldly view) kind of faith.
Mark Twain put it this way: “Why not go out on a limb? That’s where the fruit is.” Twain is also known to have said, “A life without risk is not a life worth living.” For a believer, the same can obviously be said about faith, for we know that, “without faith, it is impossible to please God.” (Hebrews 11:6) As a traditional church worker, I was told I had the gift of faith. Yet as a businessman, no one has ever said to me that I have the gift of risk. But, may I ask, what is the difference? The religious worker must trust God to supply the funds for his support to feed their family. Likewise, the businessman must trust God to cut the deal and make a profit so as to feed his family. Both require trust. Both depend on God. But in church we call it faith, and in the secular world we call it risk. Faith, simply put, is risk ordained by God. God wants us to live by faith as it makes us more dependent upon Himself. Nonetheless, we are usually trying to make our lives secure and safe. But when we are safe and secure, we often neglect or forget God. Thus, He is constantly trying to tear down our worldly securities to cause us to rely more upon Himself. Risk/faith is good because it causes us to be more dependent upon Him.
I have studied the concepts of risk and faith for several years, coming to the conclusion that, as a Christian doing business, risk and faith are the same thing. I conclude this in that everything I do must be done in faith. Paul clarifies, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men” (Colossians 3:23) and “…whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.” (Romans 14:23) So whatever we do, we do unto the Master and not ourselves. And if we do anything, including taking necessary risks in our life or work, we are doing that with God by faith. When we hesitate to “risk it” we are also hesitating to step out on faith. Now, I am not advocating that we do foolish things, but when you have written a solid business plan and have experienced B4Ters and coaches check off on the plan—move forward!
We had just purchased our office unit for our business. The team gathered together in the shell of the building to pray and bless the building, committing it to Jesus’ purposes. While we were praying I was hit with a sudden panic. My mind raced, “What have I done! How is this all going to work? What kind of idiot am I? Lord, help!” While others were still praying and I was struggling with this panic attack, the Lord brought to mind a similar situation twelve years earlier. I was sitting in a rocking chair in the hospital, rocking my one-day-old son. At that time my mind raced, “What have I done! How is this all going to work? How am I going to raise, feed, and educate this precious child! Lord, help!” He reminded me then that this is His child, and if I steward his life to the best of my ability, God will bless my son to His glory. He reminded me that this too is His business and if I steward the company to the best of my ability, He will also bless it to His glory.
When each Israelite took that first step onto the seabed of the Red Sea, I am sure many had a few fears. They were literally entering new grounds. But they heeded the word of God and stuck with one another. God protected and provided for them. For the Israelites, and for us, faith and risk are one in the same. A big part of being a B4Ter is learning when to take risks and when to play it safe. When those times of panic hit, there are two things to do: one, draw close to God and remember His promises to you. And two, find brothers and sisters who you can share your fears with so that they can encourage and minister to you. Having the perspective of God and godly people helps bring us back to reality.
In Jesus’ parable of the talents the servant who Jesus deemed as “wicked and slothful” replied, “I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground.” (Matthew 25:25) Seth Godin nails it when he says, “The harder you try to play it safe, the more likely you are to fail.” Most Christians would agree that stepping out in faith is a good thing. May I argue that for the B4Ter, stepping out in calculated risk is also a good thing? Taking wise risks builds faith. And as mentioned, faith pleases God.
As you begin taking risks, as with business, start small. Jesus says, “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?” (Luke 16:10-11) Do not step out and risk a million dollars when you have not learned to trust Him for one hundred dollars. As with learning any new skill, seek opportunities to develop your talent in taking risks. An essential step in the process of learning to take larger steps of risk requires us to incorporate a medley of spiritual, intellectual, emotional, physical, and financial risks. These many new experiences build us up toward maturity in Christ, as well as in our sacrifice and service to Him. So don’t be afraid to step out in risk, I mean faith!
“Unless there is an element of risk in our exploits for God, there is no need for faith.” —Hudson Taylor
PATRICK LAI and his family have worked in SE Asia for over 37 years. His experience in doing business with Jesus has brought him to understand the meaning of work and worship in the marketplace. He started 14 businesses in four countries, six of which are still operating. Patrick and his wife, May, mentor and coach businesspeople working where there are few or no Christians. Check out Patrick’s latest book, Workship, now available in paperback and e-book.