Risk versus Reliance
Success in ministry, and in all of life for that matter, boils down to us weighing the assets and challenges.
Reliance: How much of God to we need for success? A synonym for reliance that’s a little more biblical — grace. How much of God’s blessing is called for in order to pull this off? Sometimes we need a lot. Sometimes we can either forget we need him, or we adjust our sights so low we can live on cruise control and hardly engage with God or people.
Risk: How likely is it that all of this thing will go sideways?
Low Risk, Low Reliance:
When there isn’t much on the line we will be willing to gravitate to minimizing what could go wrong — and no matter how you slice it, the less risk the better, the more achievable. That’s true when we are trying to do something great with God.
Sadly this is the quadrant of many whose lives resemble that of Walter Mitty. This character, played by Danny Kaye in the 1953 film, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, lived in a fantasy world where he had a variety of make-believe careers and adventures. He pretended to be a surgeon in one dream. In another, he was the pilot of a large plane with lots of responsibility. The real reality, the true truth, as he had a job that wasn’t glamorous in the least. His way of dealing with his boredom was live in a fantasy world — one that was real only to him, only in his head.
As Believers, when we convince ourselves we are doing great acts of outreach and are bringing many into the Kingdom when we are barely trying much less succeeding, we live like Walter Mitty Christians.
When the goal of a church is to preserve what is, they are well on their way toward full-fledged Mitty-dom.
Low Risk, High Reliance:
This is the quadrant that captures the essence of servant evangelism. When we do something in outreach that is doable — something about anyone can pull off — think of that as high risk. When we pass out bottles of cold water on a warm day, we are engaged in low risk. How difficult is it to give away water at a stop sign or red light? All that’s involved is pretty simple:
- Stretch out your hand while grasping the bottle and smile.
- Let go of the bottle and card as you say, “Hey, this is a small way to show you God’s love in a practical way.”
High Risk, Low Reliance:
In our quest to be as trained and prepared as possible, we can fall into the trap of relying on the outline of information rather than the arranging of God — the capital “E” Evangelist.
High Risk, High Reliance:
When we step into a need that requires a maximum amount of God’s presence plus a willingness on our part to do whatever — we move into what is often Power Evangelism. Though this is a high-risk area, when this has happened with me I’ve usually seen great fruit.