Following Jesus is fraught with inherent risks. When Jesus called Simon Peter, he challenged the fisherman and his friends to row their boats into deep water and let down their nets for a catch (Luke 5:4). Later, as Jesus journeyed toward Jerusalem, a would-be disciple said that he would follow Jesus anywhere. Jesus replied, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head” (9:58). Jesus knew the risks of being a disciple.
It’s tempting to settle for the comfortable paths, but just as there are risks involved in following Jesus as a disciple, being faithful in leadership eventually calls us to take risks, too.
Some risk-taking involves the way we manage our responsibilities. A leader who delegates authority and work to others on the team runs the risk of something not being carried out the way they would do it. A leader may discern the need to challenge an organization to consider a bold new direction, and taking such a step introduces the risk of failure and rejection.
Some risk-taking is personal. Good leaders take the risk of being vulnerable. Despite some people’s expectations, we do not know everything. When we do not have the answers, we need the humility to say we do not know. When we need help, we should seek trustworthy confidants to ask for their guidance and support.
Is it time for you to take a risk? This could be a first step in making a positive change as a leader. You may feel uneasy about asking for support or starting a conversation about doing something new, but not saying anything might be a risk you don’t want to take.
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Before you go…
It can be difficult to know when to “put out into deep water” as a leader. Voices in our own heads, as well as external influences, give competing and conflicting guidance. I always find it helpful to be still and get away from the busyness of day-to-day demands, even if only for a few hours. I talk to people I trust to tell me the truth. Once I’ve done this, if I still feel like the risk is worth taking, that’s a good sign Jesus is calling me into deeper water.
The best decisions I’ve made in ministry have demanded courage and perseverance. It seems like risk is just part of the journey. Thankfully, Jesus made a promise to be with us to the end of the age.
You can always reach me and the Alban Weekly team at email@example.com. Until next week, keep leading!
Editor, Alban at Duke Divinity
‘Leading and Thriving in the Church’: A new podcast from Alban at Duke Divinity
In the fourth episode of “Leading and Thriving in the Church,” Prince talks with Ruth Haley Barton, the founding president and CEO of the Transforming Center, whose mission is to strengthen the souls of pastors, spiritual leaders and the congregations and organizations they serve.