We like to evaluate things. We evaluate movies, restaurants, sermons, books, blogs, vacation rentals, politicians, peers, and most everything else in between. I don’t guess there is necessarily anything wrong with evaluating things. Evaluations can help us improve. After all, we are each encouraged to “examine ourselves” in the bible.
When it comes to evaluating the success of one’s life or one’s body of work, what means of measurement should be used? Evaluating one’s life seems a bit relative. An evaluation of what someone did with the hand they were dealt in life seems appropriate, in a way. Some people have more opportunities, encouragement, training, and/or resources.
But there is something that everyone has that does affect our level of success and influence in life: Risk. We all have the opportunity, regardless of our starting point, to take a risk in life. Author, entrepreneur, and motivational speaker, Jim Rohn, puts it this way, “If you are not willing to risk the usual, you will have to settle for the ordinary.
The greatest risk in life is to attempt little and thus not do much. What things are you not willing to risk? Those who are selfish may fear a loss of security, thus, giving to others is too much of a risk. Those who remain silent may appear to be in agreement with the most ridiculous opinions of others. Are you unwilling to stand up for what you believe? Are you unwilling to risk your reputation? Are you unwilling to confront another to resolve an interpersonal problem? Are you unwilling to risk an investment of time in another person? Are you unwilling to learn something new or interview for that dream job?
Maybe it is time for each of us to look at those areas of life where we haven’t grown and consider taking a risk. Marriage counseling is an awkward risk for some. Financial counseling is another potential, embarrassing risk. Sharing who you really are in a small group is a risk. Telling someone that you love him or her is way too much vulnerability for some. Applying to that elite school can be too much of a risk.
American poet, Mary Oliver, asks a pertinent question, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one, wild, and precious life?” The greatest risk in life is to take no risk. We are destined for mediocrity should we never put ourselves “out there” verbally, emotionally, financially, intellectually, and relationally. We have but one shot at this life. Our vocational, biological, marital, and financial clocks are ticking. “Be faithful in few things and you will be given charge over many” (Luke 16:10). Avoid the greatest risk in life one can take, doing nothing, trying nothing new, seeing things only from your own perspective, sharing nothing, standing up for little, going nowhere new, living only for tomorrow, confronting no one, accepting everything, etc. If we risk nothing, we will each discover a level of mediocrity that we never knew existed. The greatest virtue in life is love. The greatest risk is to not love God and others, and to not acknowledge the fact that we have but just this one life here on this earth. There is absolutely no evangelism in heaven.
-Dr. Gary Hewins,
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