In my previous article, I started a series looking back at my 60-plus years of walking with Jesus and describing some of the faith and ministry lessons I’ve learned along the way. If you missed that article, you can find it here.
I’ve had a lot of people throughout the years come into my office and tell me that my plans for Saddleback are impossible. You’ve probably had it happen, too. You start a new building campaign with a huge goal. Or you commit to a new mission project that looks overwhelming. Whatever it is, people will tell you it’s impossible to do.
So what I’ve done is remove the word impossible from the dictionary in my office. I did this at the very beginning of Saddleback Church. I got that idea from the Bible. Luke 1:37 says, “Nothing is impossible for God” (GW). If impossible isn’t in God’s vocabulary, it’s not in mine either.
Many years ago, we had a traffic bottleneck coming onto our campus. We had only one entrance, and we desperately needed another one. Our church wasn’t growing because of this bottleneck. We wanted to build a bridge as a second entrance onto the property. Fourteen government agencies told us it was impossible. It could never happen. But impossible isn’t in my dictionary.
And God did the impossible.
God didn’t do this because I have such great faith. That bridge exists today because God wanted it. “Nothing is impossible with God.” It didn’t matter that 14 agencies said it couldn’t happen. They were wrong. God was right.
That word impossible often keeps those of us in ministry from taking risks. We don’t want to fail. But failure isn’t bad; it’s how we learn. You can’t learn what doesn’t work without failure.
We’ve done more that didn’t work at Saddleback than did. We’re not afraid of failure. We fail fast, we fail often, and we fail cheap. That’s the key. That’s how you figure out what actually works. The fear of failure is far worse than actually failing, because everybody fails.
If you want to take more risks, you’ll need to cultivate these three actions in your life.
- Redefine failure.
Failure isn’t “not reaching” your goal. It’s failing to set a goal. Failure is not trying.
If you’re acting in love and in faith, you can’t be considered a failure. The Bible says that love never fails. Whether you reach your goal or not is irrelevant. The fact that you made the effort in faith and love means you have succeeded.
- Build your life on a foundation that doesn’t change.
Only one thing in your life won’t change—God’s purposes. In basketball, they teach you that when you put your pivot foot down, it’s the foot you keep solid as you move around the other one.
When you have a solid foundation that doesn’t move, you’ll have the confidence you need to try new things. As you keep one foot down, you can take the risks God calls you to take.
- Remember God is always with you.
You’re never taking a risk by yourself. One of the most common promises in the Bible is, “I will be with you.” God says it over and over. Every time I have taken a risk at Saddleback, I knew I wasn’t doing it alone. When God is with you, you’ll have more confidence.
Your ministry will never please God without taking risks.
The Bible says, “Without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6 NIV).
I hope you’ll commit today to a ministry that pleases God because you’re taking risks for him in faith.