Taking risks is a vital part of ministry. You don’t need to take every risk in front of you, but you do need to take every risk God calls you to take, even when you’re afraid.
Maybe you’re uprooting your family to go somewhere new to serve the Lord. Or you’re starting a new ministry, and you have no idea how you’ll fund it. Opportunities like these will require you to take faithful risks, because “without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6 NIV).
Why is it important to God that we learn to take risks? Because he wants us to learn to trust him. And we can’t lead others to live by faith if we refuse to do it ourselves.
Throughout the Bible, God calls people to take risks in faith. In Exodus 14, before the Israelites crossed the Red Sea with the Egyptians in pursuit, they became fearful. Here are four things we learn from the Israelites about fear.
- Fear makes us skeptical.
“[The Israelites] said to Moses, ‘Why did you bring us out here to die in the wilderness?’” (Exodus 14:11 NLT). We begin to doubt and pull back from taking risks when we’re afraid. We doubt ourselves. We doubt God. In fact, fear is a common problem for skeptics. They often ridicule what they’re afraid of.
- Fear makes us selfish.
“What have you done to us?” (Exodus 14:11 NLT). Fear makes people only think of themselves—not other people. The Israelites could only think of the problems they were facing. We often do the same when we’re afraid. We’re quick to accuse others, excuse ourselves, blame other people, and run from responsibility.
- Fear makes us stubborn.
“Didn’t we tell you this would happen while we were still in Egypt? We said, ‘Leave us alone!’” (Exodus 14:12 NLT). We resist change when we’re afraid. The Israelites told Moses, “Don’t rock the boat. Don’t mess with the status quo. We’ve always done it this way.” Fear keeps people and churches from growing because it causes us to be stubborn. It keeps us from admitting our mistakes. The old saying is true: “The hardest thing to open is a closed mind.”
- Fear makes us short-sighted.
“It’s better to be a slave in Egypt than a corpse in the wilderness!” (Exodus 14:12 NLT). When the Israelites were confronted with the Red Sea, they wanted to go back to the “good old days” in Egypt. They wanted to retreat.
Pastor, fear will make you want to retreat, too, keeping you from being all God calls you to be. It’ll limit your talents. It’ll cause you to pull back.
Remember what happened to the disciples in John 20 after Jesus had been crucified? The disciples were together with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish authorities. They were afraid. That’s what fear does; it always locks doors from the inside.
And fear will limit your potential.
Paul Tournier says it like this: “All of us have vast reservoirs of full potential. But the road that leads to those reservoirs is guarded by the dragon of fear.”
God has a great work planned for you on the other side of your fear. Are you ready to step into it?
Next week, I’ll share five truths to help you learn how to step past fear and take risks in faith for your ministry.