I recently read an article which asked the question, “Are you taking enough risks?” This is an important question in our work life because without taking risks we will not grow.
While some people's personalities drive them toward taking risks, many people only take risks in their professional life when forced to do so. The layoffs and furloughs forced by COVID-19 have catapulted workers out of what felt like stable jobs into unexpected job searches. Millions of people found stability replaced by instability with all of its inherent risks. (If you are unemployed, using the best job search strategies will help you to deal with these risks effectively. Here are job search resources.)
If there is any good news in this COVID-19 pandemic, it is that the situation is causing men and women to reflect on what is important in life. Faith, family, and health top the list. But work, also, is important. Not just to provide income, but also to bring a sense of satisfaction and significance to life. How would you answer questions such as:
- Does my work fit me well?
- Does it use the skills and abilities I enjoy using?
- Is my work a calling or just a job?
- Do I believe in the mission of my company?
- Am I excited to be a part of this company?
- Am I growing in my job or have I become stagnant?
- And, most importantly, what is God calling me to do at this time in my life? Am I willing to take risks to follow Him?
The Bible gives us principles that relate to His calling for our lives and the risks we need to take to live those callings. In Matthew 25, Jesus tells the Parable of the Talents in which three servants were given different amounts of talents to invest while their master was away. One servant was given five talents, one two talents and the third servant was given one talent. The first two servants took what were probably some significant risks that paid off and doubled the master’s talents. As we would imagine, the master was pleased. In contrast to the master being pleased with the first two servants, the third servant, who fearfully hid his talent, received the master’s fury and his talent was taken from him and given to the first servant.
We don’t know what would have happened if the first two servants had not been that successful. It is doubtful, however, that he would have been angry as he was with the third servant who hid and buried his talent out of the feat of losing the talent. Instead, the master may have encouraged the servants to learn from their actions and to try again.
As God is our Master and we are the servants, there are principles that we can learn about risk-taking:
1. We must take risks to use fully the talents that God has given to us. The risks God calls us to take might be financial, physical and/or psychological, such as going against others' expectations for our lives, being misunderstood, and living with uncertainty and ambiguity.
2. The risks that God calls us to take will always be for His glory.
3. Living our calling and pursuing the dreams God has given us will most likely require taking bigger risks along the way.
4. We have to manage our fear to do what God calls us to do.
5. Remembering we are ultimately accountable to God is a good motivator!
What are some of the risks that God is calling you to take? Do you sense God calling you to:
- write a book
- start a business
- complete a college degree
- learn to flip a house
- start a ministry that serves your community
- travel more
- work from home
- motivate others through training and speaking
- discover a new job or career that uses your gifts and interests
Dreams, goals and callings that are from God – God-sized dreams – require His power to be successful. They will take us out of our comfort zone and push us to take risks. Dreams that are big enough will result in our prayer lives increasing as we quickly realize that we won’t succeed without God’s power being at work in our dreams, goals, and callings.
When we first dreamed about providing career counseling services, we had a vision of helping Christian men and woman to do first-rate career planning with an eternal perspective. We wanted to help clients find God’s calling and experience meaningful, significant careers and lives. We began by offering a one-day career planning workshop at our church. Thirty people attended and four of them became our first career counseling clients. While this was exciting, we realized we would need to learn how to reach a lot more people to have a full private practice.
While we felt confident as National Certified Career Counselors, we knew very little about how to advertise our services. We found a marketing class for counselors that was helpful, and read extensively about how to build a business. Soon we had a marketing plan that involved direct mail flyers and Christian radio ads. This was a huge risk for us as the annual investment for this type of marketing cost more than either of us had ever earned in a year. We were scared, but also excited because we had done our research, had a solid plan, and felt God was calling us to take this larger risk.
It wasn't easy. There were many financial ups and downs, including months when we didn’t pay ourselves a salary. We found, however, that God was always faithful to meet our real needs. We also saw how God worked in unexpected ways. We were disheartened when the affordable Christian radio station on which we had advertised for years was sold to a Spanish music station. Around the same time, the Internet became a viable tool for reaching people. As early adopters of the Internet, we developed and launched our website, ChristianCareerCenter.com.
When we launched the website, we were afraid that we might be overwhelmed with visitors wanting our services. Instead, we heard “crickets.” We would open our email and rarely heard “You have mail.” While this frightened us, we knew that God always had been faithful when we took risks we believed He was calling us to take. As with any ministry, it has taken perseverance, ongoing learning, making mistakes, and continuing to seek God's guidance. Fast-forwarding 25 years, we are grateful that God has enabled ChristianCareerCenter.com to become the most-used Christian career center on the Internet. We have also developed several other websites including CareerFitTest.com (a skill-based assessment to help people find work they love), LiveYourCalling.com (a site related to our book Live Your Calling), ChurchJobsOnline.com and ChristianJobFair.com.
God has taught us there will be risks each time we are called to something new. We may be afraid. We may not succeed right away. Fear and "failure" can happen as we take risks. The good news, however, is that God will be faithful to use failures for our good. As Roman’s 8:28 proclaims, “And we know that God works all things together for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose.”
So, what is the next risk God is calling you to take? Remember that God uses people who are open to taking risks even when it is scary. The world is waiting for you to live your calling by taking risks that allow you to identify your God-given talents, be a wise steward of your talents in work that you love, and meet needs in the world in a way that only you can do!
Professional Career Coaching & Job Search Assistance
Risk-taking is more successful when we have needed support. We are here to help you better understand your God-given design, identify the right job targets, and use the best job search skills to find work that fits your design. We invite you to check into our career testing and professional career counseling services.
Kevin Brennfleck and Kay Marie Brennfleck are the authors of Live Your Calling: A Practical Guide to Finding and Fulfilling Your Mission in Life. As National Certified Career Counselors and Life Calling Coaches, they are recognized experts in helping people identify their giftedness and find their calling in work and life. If you are interested in career coaching and testing to discover work that fits your God-given design; or would like assistance with writing a powerful resume, interviewing effectively, finding job openings, or other aspects of a successful job search, you can schedule a free consultation session at www.ChristianCareerCenter.com. You can also find more resources at www.ChurchJobsOnline.com and www.ChristianJobFair.com.