In a society and culture where safety and security are important, the word risk has little favor. Many clever marketing campaigns have been designed to generate fear or concern, creating a natural urge in us to stay away from risk. Just think of all the insurance products we have! The idea of risk has been unnecessarily packed with many negative implications.
Yet a leader needs to see risk as a friend to embrace not an enemy to fear. Think about the bold leaders you admire. Every one of them took on the risks required to innovate and lead. While a present perspective may see safety and security as good, I believe history will measure your leadership based on your willingness and capacity to embrace risk.
A leader’s willingness to embrace risk should always be weighed against the worthiness of the mission.
A few years ago, after addressing a group of new Empart graduates, I spent time with one of them who was determined to work in his own village from where he had been forcibly expelled a year before. John (not his real name) was willingly going into a hostile situation where he could face massive persecution and perhaps even a violent death. Knowing his situation, and out of deep concern for him and his family, I cajoled him to “find a safer place to go to share the gospel.
His response challenged me to the core.
“Pastor Jossy, did Jesus know what was going to happen to Him before He came from heaven to earth?”
“Of course He did.”
“But that didn’t stop Him from coming, did it? So then, what should stop me from going?”
To this day, John still willingly embraces the risk because he understands the worthiness of the Cause.
Can we as leaders develop our capacity to embrace risk? Absolutely, YES!
Embracing risk is like flexing a muscle. A single, short session of flexing achieves very little. But sustained, intentional workouts of taking risks produces great results.
Here are four workouts that will grow your risk muscle:
- Continually move out of your comfort zone, even in small things. You cannot learn to take risks (or steps of faith) inside your comfort zone. Break out! Comfort zones do not equate to success.
- Don’t make excuses. It is not lack of money or time or personnel that are stopping you – it is your lack of courage to take the risk that is stopping you. So listen to yourself and every time you are about to make an excuse – stop it!
- Start something before you understand everything about it. Sometimes it’s better not to insist on having all the facts. If you know too much, you may not take the risk it requires! And remember that no matter how much planning is done, when you take the risk and venture into the unknown there will always be glitches and problems. Accept this as a fact. So…
- Develop a capacity for pain. I can promise you that embracing risk will cause pain. But learning to manage the pain is worth it when you consider that your leadership capacity (and the fulfilment of your vision) is in direct proportion to your pain threshold.
Just being a leader with a vision is not enough. When the spirit of risk-taking is removed from a leader, you make the leader ineffective and very quickly move from pioneering to maintaining.
If you’re feeling stalled, stuck in maintenance mode, consider your good friend, risk. Maybe you need to get re-acquainted?
Jossy Chacko leads Empart International, a global ministry that exists to ignite holistic community transformation among the unreached people of Asia. With a goal to see 100,000 communities transformed by 2030 through establishing community groups, they are on track, averaging 11 communities transformed/day during 2015. Providing leadership to a team of more than 6,500 in seven countries, Jossy uses his gifts as a communicator to challenge business and spiritual leaders to capture a larger, God-sized vision. Learn more about Jossy and his ministry here.