Friday, June 11, 2010

A Scary Little Thing Called Risk

Last year, I was talking to a friend about money, faith, risk, trust, heresy (the prosperity gospel) and the Kingdom of God. During our conversation he told me that he had been saving his money in various ways. Primarily, he was stashing money away in his 401K as well as keeping a savings account in which he had built a sizable cushion – enough to keep him going for some time if he were to ever find himself out of work.

He went on to tell me that a number of his friends had recently lost their jobs due to the economic downturn. Without even missing a beat, he said that he felt like God was telling him to use his savings to start paying his friends rents and mortgages. His words were, "All this time, I thought I was saving this money for my own crisis, only to realize that the money wasn't supposed to just sit there when other people were in need."

Fast forward to 2 months ago. Same friend. Same type of conversation. This time, he mentioned to me that he had greatly reduced the amount of money that he was dumping into his 401K so that he would have more cash at his disposal to actually give away.

I've been wrestling a lot lately with what it means to actually follow God with my life and with my money. What it really looks like to take risk and to trust him.

Here are some of the thoughts and questions that I have been wrestling with:

If all of the current resources that I have really belong to God, then should I be more pro-active in asking him how to use them? Instead of asking God how he can help me save more, should I first be asking him where I can give more?

If Jesus says, "Follow after me and I'll take care of everything else", when, exactly, should I start doing this? Do I start taking risk after I feel like my 401K has enough money in it? Do I decide to start giving money away once I’m feeling secure in my savings? Or my house is paid off?

If the life of the future lived in the present by God’s people is one of generosity, then why am I not more generous?

I've realized over this last year that I used to be a lot more generous. Then I became a lot more careful. For the past couple of years, I have been very focused on planning and saving. Trying to put myself in position to have all of my bases covered so that one day, I can finally have enough, finally relax....and then.....I can really start to be generous and follow after the things God is asking me to do.

Don't get me wrong....I think saving is smart and I think it can also be good stewardship. At the same time, I wonder these days, when Jesus said,”Follow me, put me first and I’ll take care of the rest…” Did he actually mean that we should follow him and literally trust that he would work everything else out?

I fully comprehend these ideas with my head, but recently, I’ve realized that I really do get a wonderful sense of security from the amount of money that I have in my bank accounts (or anxiety from lack thereof). The interesting thing is, when I think about God’s call to follow and trust him, it seems like the only ones who ever get to really find out if he was serious when he said he would take care of everything else, are the ones who take risks to follow him.

The thing is - risk is really scary for me. But lately, I’m realizing (again) that this Jesus following life…a true, authentic, Jesus following life is probably supposed to be lived more in the world of risk and trust than it is safety and stability.

So, how about you? Have you ever wrestled with the risk and trust vs. safety and stability issue?

How much comfort and safety do you receive from stuff?

If you are a Jesus follower, have you asked him lately where he might want you to risk something?


Pi Man said...

Hey Brian, Good Stuff.
Certainly we wrestle with these thoughts that you have presented. I think the short answer for me lies in the fact that while God certainly does own it all, he expects me to be (as you said) a responsible steward with that which He has blessed me. You have said in your sermons that God does not expect us to leave our common sense at the door. I couldn't agree more. That said, I don't believe that He would want you (or me, etc.) to give to the degree that your wife and children would suffer. It's not the amount, but rather the condition of the heart. And may I say, from the short almost two years that I have had the privilege of knowing you, that your heart sings and spews forth the love of the Father. So may I humbly say, no problem there, Brother. Thanks for making us remember to always be aware of how we can responsibly give more, though. Peace. TA

jeansonne said...

Tim, thanks for the encouraging words. I wholeheartedly agree that we are not to leave our common sense at the door. I think for me, the question (and thought behind this post) is....what do I look to do first with what God gives to me to steward. Store away by default or seek God's direction and desire on a regular basis.

It seems to be a question that I need to regularly be reminded to ask.

Anonymous said...

This was a provoking sermon. Came at a time when I am considering something that will be a huge risk.

Sometimes what you are risking and trusting isn't money. It's your time. Your energy. Your heart, which could get trampled upon. I am quite good at protecting all of the above.

In my life, I think risk and trusting is coming in the form of time and identity. Sadly (THAT is a revelation!), most of my adult life has been spent dedicated to doing a great job and to my career. Some of that is the "excellence" concept and some of that was because I did not have anything more compelling to pour into. So the question become: What if I choose to serve God and that service means that the all-consuming career gets put in the "job" category? If I allow something else to take over?

Giving fully of oneself is selfless. Jumping into something that I know little about and KNOWING that I will have to rely totally on God to guide me - that is risk and that requires trust and that is what I think God is calling me to.

Further risk? What if I am rejected? What if this turns out differently than I planned? Will I stay committed?

Matt 12:25 NIV commentary strikes a cord: "Real discipleship implies real commitment - pledging our whole existence to his service. If we protect ourselves from pain, we begin to die spiritually and emotionally. Our lives turn inward and we lose our intended purpose. When we give our lives in service to Christ, however, we discover the real purpose of living."

I am not the person that God intends me to be. And I have been dying spiritually as a result.

So, stewardship, risk, trust, and the rest are (to me) about taking the elements of our lives and giving them to serving Christ.

Your sermon, your verses as a jumping off point, and time with God leads me to conclude: Comfort zone be gone. I'm in.