What would you do differently? When 50 people over the age of 95 were asked what they would do in life, if they could do it over again, the same three answers emerged almost every time.
I would stop and reflect more. I would do more things that would live on after me. Lastly, I would risk more.
I found that last answer to be rather amazing: "I would risk more."
It's funny how our lives can so easily become an attempt to maintain the ordinary and status quo. We once had dreams to be an adventurer, an entrepreneur and a trendsetter, but we somehow got sucked into maintenance mode.
I'm not saying that security and comfort are necessarily evil things. I'm saying that once security and comfort have become the goal in life, it's really difficult to ever get up out of the chair and put it all on the line again. The risk is just too high. The risk involves giving up the one thing you've worked so hard to achieve.
If you asked me several years ago, I would have told you that my greatest fear in life is failure. I was always paralyzed by the fear of failure. There are so many times I wouldn't even attempt to step out and do something if I wasn't 110 percent sure I would succeed.
My definition of risk was something that was already a sure thing. Each of my risks had a carefully calculated plan (with a backup plan in case the initial plan didn't work). As you can tell, I had (and still have) issues.
During this season of my life, there was a story that began to change my entire outlook on life. It caused me to do some intense soul searching and think about how I wanted to live the rest of my life.
It's a story found in Matthew 25:14-30. It's a parable about a property owner (he represents God) who brings in three of his servants (that's us) and entrusts his money to them. The first servant received five talents (a talent was equal to about a year's pay), the second servant received two talents, and the third servant received one talent. Then, the owner went away on a long journey.
When the owner returns, he finds that the servant with five talents had put those talents to work and gained five more. The servant with two talents gained two more talents.
The servant with one talent, however, was scared because he knew the owner was going to demand much of him, so he hid the one talent in the ground. The servant dug up the one talent and presented it back to the owner, with no interest gained. As can be imagined, the property owner was greatly disappointed with the servant.
I began to really think about the implications of this story. Am I someone who's willing to put my talents (my money, my stuff, my life) on the line, invest them with the chance of losing them? Or am I content to bury them in the ground and then just wait to give them back to the owner one day?
This story had a big time effect on my life. From that moment on, I began to take more risks. Not frivolous or crazy, "just because I can risks," but risks that put me in positions where I had to truly trust God.
The kind of risks where there was no back up plan or safety nets. The kind of risks where I was challenged in my faith to put everything, absolutely everything, in the hands of God.
This might be the single greatest decision in my life. When I began to do this, my faith in Christ grew to a whole new dimension. I went from a guy who was in the stands cheering on the players to a guy who's actually in the game.
I'm not here to say that everything is going to be roses or that it's going to be easy just because you chose to risk it. I've endured more sleepless nights, awkward situations and tough conversations than ever before in my life.
At the same time, I believe I've awakened my faith in God to a completely new level. I think it might just be the place where God designed us to live all along -- a place where each and every day, we trust God to provide, to show up and to see us through.
When I talk about risks, I'm not just talking about huge risks such as starting a new company, moving to a new city, deciding to get married, etc. Sometimes, it was the smaller risks like sharing my faith with a friend who was hurting that was the hardest thing for me to do. It was a conscious effort I made to continually get outside of the little comfort zone I always wanted to revert back to.
Don't get me wrong, I'm still a planner. It's so ingrained in my DNA it would take a complete body transplant to change that part of me. Although, I have embraced a new stance on life; it's no longer the fear of failure that has gripped my life and made me powerless.
My biggest fear is now standing before God, much like the servant with one talent, and saying to God that I never did anything with what you gave me. I never risked it, I never put it on the line, I never stepped out of my little comfort zone to see all that you wanted to do through me.
This new fear is the healthy type of fear, it's a fear that continually draws me into a deeper and deeper relationship with Jesus Christ.
It's a fear that moves me not to waste one more day of my life.
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