“Dude, you’re totally a risk-taker!” Jay said.

“I don’t think so—I think I’m overly cautious,” came my reply.

Those are two extremes that are difficult to reconcile. About three weeks prior Yamil e-mailed us a personality quiz. We were to e-mail our personal results to the other team members; the intent is that it would help us understand each other better. The site wouldn’t work for me, but I got as far as this question: “Are you cautious, or are you a risk-taker?” (unfortunately ‘cautions risk-taker’ was not an option…)

Anyone who knows me would say I’m a risk-taker—even my parents. So how can those who are closest to me see me as a risk-taker while I, myself, do not? Am I wrong, or are they? The answer is, “I don’t know. That’s why I’m writing this blog.”

Before I take any ‘risk’ I (usually) thoroughly assess the situation, weighing the risk/gain (hospital expense/enjoyment or thrill) and the likelihood I’ll bite it, then I usually go for it.

So in that sense, I’m not too cautious. And on the road, I’m not timid at all…

“If you’re going to drive, then drive—if not, get of the road!”

And I live by that. I don’t drive recklessly (usually), but I don’t hesitate. I see an opportunity and I take it. I see so many people hesitate and that’s when mistakes are made and people get hurt. “Do I have enough time to turn before that car gets here?” As they hesitate, the window of opportunity passes.

So why do these people hesitate? Because they’re afraid of mis-judging and getting hit—they’re afraid of failure. I’m afraid of failure.

I’ve been reading Messages to Young People. Here’s what the author says about the fear of failure.

Many become inefficient by evading responsibilities for fear of failure. Thus they fail of gaining that education which results from experience, and which reading and study and all the advantages otherwise gained cannot give them. – Messages To Young People, p. 193.

In other words, sometimes life requires you to face your fears to move ahead, learning by experience (even the experience of failure). This scares me, here’s why:

The scariest thing for a man is to offer his strength in situations where he doesn’t know if it will make any difference (or be needed.) Or worse, that he will fail. – John & Stasi Eldredge, Captivating

This explains my hesitation—and even gives ground for justification. But let’s read on.

…A man’s basic sin is his choice to offer strength only in those situations where he knows things will go well. And so repentance for a man is entering into the very situations that he fears and offering his strength anyway. – ibid

Have mercy! Talk about getting hit with both barrels! When I read that I feel like one of those little bugs that you see when you pick up a bucket in the yard that hasn’t been moved in weeks, the little ones that go scurrying for cover in a dark little hole—that’s me.

So much for that great adventurer people see. Sure, I go cliff jumping and rock climbing. I’ve soloed 14ers and done some crazy 4x4ing. I’ve biked Slickrock and swam class 3 rapids. But when it comes to the inside—to the possibility of failure or rejection, all that courage amounts to nothing.

I must repent. It’s time I look fear in the face and step forward. I’m sure I’ll experience failure. I’ll probably squirm a lot. I’ll probably regress and need to make this resolution again, but I need to do this—I’m going to do this.

This article has 8 comments

  1. scienceguy_ae

    I swam a class 4 rapid once! 😀

    Ahhh! Ok, I feel like a bug too… Thanks for the post bro, I needed this tonight. Seriously (not being sarcastic).

  2. Paul

    Like you, I tend to do things (on and off the road) that most people think are risky or reckless.
    But this has nothing to do with courage. Courage, (spiritual and physical) is measured by how I play my hand, not the cards that God gave me. In Golf terms, we are each playing on a different course, and for a different par. Courage for one is timidity for another. Basically, we can’t compare ourselves to anyone except God–and we all fall far short there in every area.
    It is easy to feel superior when others capsize in rapids we’ve just paddled up, but “to those whom much is given, much is also required”
    The dude who had five talents wouldn’t have gotten off if he’d just sat on them–even though he had more than the dude with two talents had after doubling his net worth.
    And seeing that the parable of the talents is talking about the amount of truth one has, not their piano playing abilities, we Christians have no excuses.
    The good news is that “success” and “failure” are totally irrelevant. God asks us to give life our best shot (see Noah, Samuel, and Jesus) and leave results in His hands.
    More basically, we know that God will ultimately prevail, and if we’re His slaves, we will too.

  3. Brandon

    I guess I can see how this blog could be taken this way. Though the point I was getting at is more specifically dealing with risk, it’s role in our lives, and facing it.

    Though I may be a risk taker in some areas of my life, there are some areas in which I’m unwilling to take risk. Though I may risk my life snowboarding, I won’t risk the pain of rejection, and thus avoid vulnerability and commitment.

    I must admit, I was a bit cryptic in the blog. Perhaps I was avoiding committing to a clear position… 🙂

  4. Paul

    Nah, I don’t think your post is cryptic. I just spun it a bit to make a related point.

  5. Josiah

    So true…you’ve once again summed up my thoughts…for me! This is working out well 😀 But on a serious note, I really do find myself only taking risk that I “know” I’ll win. Unfortunately, I will probably look back and wonder why I didn’t take a stronger stand. HA, and too many people think I take to strong a stand as it is. Oh well.

    Happy Sabbath,


  6. Ricky

    Right now I am teaching at Miracle Meadows. Every week I see myself as a failure, yet I don’t have any choice but to go on and seek success. God is good and He encourages me, but failure is painful. I am trying to learn how to tell when I am putting my all into something and when I might be holding back, because success in trying circumstances depends on us giving our all. Also, I am reevaluating faith. What does it mean to have faith? Does it mean that I expect success all the time? Therefore if I meet failure is that from a lack of faith? Than you can ask the question “what is failure?” Or better yet “who defines failure?” Some would say that what appears as failure to us God turns into success and we know that all things work together for good. Yet if what we recognize as failure is success in God’s eyes, than what is the differences between failure and success? If it is all the same than how do we grade ourselves? How do we know that we are going the extra mile?

  7. joar andré

    hey bro! if you don’t update your blog soon, it will end up like Evan’s… oh, and Evan, if you read this, take the hint 🙂