Monday, November 16, 2009

To take risks is worth it !!

Rewards are worth the risk.

"Progress always involves risk; you can't steal second base and keep your foot on first," Frederick Wilcox's most famous quote on winning involves resolve, not hesitating, but making choices.

Risks of any kind need courage. “Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore,” wrote Andre Gide, winner of the 1947 Nobel prize for literature.

I'm told that most fighter pilots in World War II were barely into their 20s. The older we get the less we are interested in risks. Most risk-takers are young and can adjust fast.

To the young, risk-taking is as natural as running and swimming. Often the risk is not worth the effort, but the young seldom have second thoughts. Risk-taking is discouraged by nay-sayers, and the negative response such and such will not work. They stick to their guns saying "no" to any challenging ventures, which to them is a risk.

Mark Twain could have been thinking of these nay-sayers when he wrote: "Keep away from people who belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great."

Soon after seminary graduation, I pastored a growing church in a community south of Big D. Except for one deacon and his brother, the former pastor, who had run the church since before the Civil War, all went well. We took the risk of needed positive changes, like better use of Sunday school rooms and some schedule changes. Slowly bits of progress began slipping into the congregation. To hope is to avoid the despair of doing nothing. "Only those who risk going too far can possible find out how far they can go." (T.S. Eliot)

Those days were but the beginning of a risk-taking life. Not all of the risks were world changing and are just normal reactions to most folks. We left that comfortable church and town later to begin a church in Arizona, which is now a 55 year old vibrate congregation. Family in Texas wondered why would I go to Arizona when Texas was still full of sinners.

The family really thought we were going too far when we left San Manuel, Arizona, for the edge of the world in Taiwan. We did not know what was ahead on the trail and still don't. None of us know what is ahead, but we can't sit around and wait for things to happen. Karl Wallenda said it this way: "Life is being on the wire, everything else is just waiting."

Ray Bradbury, the science-fiction expert once said, "Living at risk is jumping off the cliff and building your wings on the way down." There is some weird truth in the saying, to laugh is to risk appearing the fool; and to weep appearing too sentimental; to love is to risk not being loved in return.

Looking back on those years I now know it would have been unfortunate if we cringed from the risks or played it safe. Playing it safe has little ir no rewards. Grasp the moment, accept the challenge, charge ahead, for the greatest risk is not taking one.

What is taking a risk? It is not just being different, but discovering the known in the unknown. "Two roads diverged in a wood, and I . . . I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference." (Robert Frost)

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