I Need Risk Calculators.

Calculating risk is a good thing. 

You may be a risk calculator. You may err on the side of caution. Good – the church, your organization, what have you – we need you. 

Or, you may be like me: I tend toward pioneering, Han Solo style: “Never tell me the odds.” Risk? I don’t want to hear about it. The more risk, the better.

But I need risk calculators, and risk calculators need pioneers. Why?

Because risk calculators help us assess our values. Pioneers know that everything worth doing is a risk. But risk assessors know not everything risky is worth doing. 

If we’re looking to spend our church savings account on a $1 million bowling alley, that’s risky. A risk assessor will say, “Hey, that’s got all kinds of pitfalls.” That’s a good and helpful observation. 

Now the pioneer must ask: “Is this worth the risk?” In other words, “Is this at the center of our values? Are we really that passionate about a bowling alley?” 

Probably not. 

On the other hand, there are plenty of things I’d be willing to stick my neck out for: justice, mercy, community, truth. The risk assessor will rightly give us pause on those issues: “You know, pursuing justice in this particular way has a lot of potential pitfalls.”

To which the pioneer says: “True. And in this case, it’s worth it.” 

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Posted in Leadership.


Nicholas McDonald is a blogger, pastor, and author of the book "Faker: How to Be Real When You're Tempted to Fake it." He studied creative writing and communication at Oxford University and Olivet Nazerene University, and received his M.Div from Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary. He currently resides in Lexington, NC, with his wife and two boys, Caleb and Owen.