Faith and Managing Risk
August 23, 2009
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French Translation – Releasing Kings is now available in French thanks to the efforts of Cees Bakker and Support Ministries in the Netherlands. In France, copies can be obtained from Editions Menor or Librairie Chretienne CLC. The Title in French is “Libération des Rois pour le ministère dans le monde du travail”. Cees is also the guy who made the Dutch translation possible – available through his website. He can be contacted for Releasing Kings conferences in France and throughout Europe.
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Faith and Managing Risk
A friend sent me an email this week asking the following three questions. Since they were insightful, I’m sharing our exchange. At the heart of these questions is a balance of taking steps of faith while using Godly wisdom to manage risk. Kings learn to do both.
1. Does God bring business opportunities which seem beyond one’s reach?
Don’t assume every “opportunity” is from God. Lots of opportunities will present themselves. We consider all of them using wisdom to make the best choices.
2. How do you evaluate to determine whether the opportunity is a divine cause?
They can all be divine – it’s your job to pick the ones the represent the best opportunity for profit, ministry, etc.
3. Of every business opportunity that comes our way, how shall I decide which is really viable; which needs to be tackled if one has the resources?
Assess the risks. The biggest mistake people make is choosing opportunities or investments based on their potential to succeed. Some opportunities succeed while others fail – hearing from God doesn’t keep you immune from problems and failures. Wisdom is choosing opportunities that won’t hurt you if they fail; or at least having a strategy in place to “resurrect” from a failure. Christians are prone to assuming that God gave the opportunity and therefore nothing will go wrong. That theology sets us up for failures.
Expectations – Most of life’s wounds have roots in sincere expectations about the future that were dashed on the rocks in a storm. We’ve all been there. Kings must have the ability to land on their feet when things go totally wrong. First let’s examine the concept of “knowing the future.”
The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. Matt 7:25 NIV
As Christians we are prone to think that God has the future under control and everything is all mapped out. Knowing His will is like knowing the future and we build a set of expectations around our beliefs about what the future holds – minus the storms. The premise is that God knows the future and, if we’re in tune with Him, understand the Bible, and have prophetic insight, we can know the future too. Armed with that premise we launch investments, businesses and churches with a great deal of confidence that we are safely within the will of God and nothing can go wrong…. then something goes wrong!
The only flaw in our thought process (above) is that it hasn’t always worked in the past and most of us carry some level of fear that something could go wrong (like it did before “most of the time!”). So we add one thing to our little theological recipe for life. We try to prevent the pain of failure by avoiding “or ignoring” the risk of loss. We falsely label reckless plunges as “faith.” Instead of taking steps to manage risk to minimize losses, we forge ahead holding God responsible for the best. So, we are generally confident in God’s goodness and believe things will go right. However, having felt the personal pain of expectations unfulfilled, we are specifically inclined to fear new endeavors that represent risk. We deal with our fear of risk by pretending it’s not there! We think proceeding in the face of risk is faith. It’s really a form of self-sabotage. Strangely, this dynamic starts to sound like unbelief. The things we fear most start to happen to us.
What I feared has come upon me; what I dreaded has happened to me. Job 3:25 NIV
Where is the risk highest? It can be when Christians do business together that real risk is most often neglected under the guise of “faith.” Our spirit-led promptings are usually legitimate. Guidance is general in nature because God expects us to be stewards of our assets, cash flow, and initiative. It’s our job to think through the details and make wise decisions that account for the risks…. “wise as serpents and harmless as doves” is Jesus advice for marketplace ministry!
Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. Matt 10:16 KJV
What Does Work? – Having a sound, Bible-based concept of God makes risk a lot simpler. God does have a plan for the future. Jesus is coming back, Heaven is real… so is Hell for that matter. Mankind will face judgment and rewards in the end. That being said, God doesn’t micromanage the details of our future. In fact, he grieves with us when things go wrong. He is not an impersonal “force.” Our God is dynamic, alive, and personal; He communicates, rejoices, gets angry, adjusts His course, and even changes His mind. Servants are a little more comfortable with a less personal God that doesn’t show emotion or change. Friends like the interaction. We all go through a maturing process from servants that just obey, to friends that interact with God and ask for their heart’s desire in fellowship with the Father (Jn 15:15). We grow in our awareness of how personal God really is. He has invited us to help plan our own future… “reason together.”
“Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD. Isa 1:18 NIV
Although we have a destiny, our future is not completely scripted by God. We have many choices and many relational encounters with God as we face everything life brings us. Understanding the true nature of God and life brings us to this point: We are firm in our resolve and ultimate direction but we leave expectations and plans flexible regarding exactly how we’ll arrive at our destination (or destiny). There is plenty of room for prayer!
Risk is Real, Accidents happen – The flaw in the thinking of many Christians is that God will protect us from risk. We take leaps of faith into the unknown and pray that nothing will go wrong. Then, when something goes south we are stuck; either blaming God or ourselves for the failure (both are bad choices). The Bible is full of stories of God’s miraculous intervention. He still does miracles all the time. However, managing your risk by expecting God to provide a miracle every time a storm comes is wrong practically and theologically.
Another flawed theology is believing God sovereignly controls everything and that there are no accidents. If something Goes wrong we falsely conclude it’s either God’s providence for our good or his judgment on us for sin. Here’s the middle of the road; God can control anything he wants to regarding the future (miracles). However, He is committed to working with kings and He leaves most of the future open for us to manage. Accidents can and do happen all the time. They don’t imply God’s will or judgment. They often point to our lack of foresight to manage risk.
Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them — do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! Luke 13:4-5 NIV
What if we stopped pretending there is no risk? What if we admit the future is partly open and it’s our job to work with God to shape it according to His purposes? What if our family and business plans accounted for all the things that could go wrong (instead of keeping all those fears hidden in a closet)?
Before you face your next “storm,” realize that you are a King working with the King of Kings. You not only share the setbacks, you chat about the options to resurrect the situation so that God is glorified and the Kingdom is built. Faith has vision and risk; wisdom adds the ability to anticipate what could go wrong and plan for it, or better yet, avoid it. If we hit a home run, God is glorified and the Kingdom is built. If we encounter problems, we implement a strategy to solve them (avoid or manage the risk) so the Kingdom is still built. Whether it’s the easy way or the hard way we are still walking with Jesus (the rock) and we’ll still arrive at the same destiny if we stick with it. Pretty cool isn’t it?
Here’s reality – We Kings live in real-world warfare but we operate in the power of the Holy Spirit. Spiritual attack is magnified because of the warfare, but our fruitfulness and opportunities are magnified even more because of His power that works so mightily in us.
Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us Eph 3:20 NASB
To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me. Col 1:29 NIV
Strong Backbones, Flexible Expectations – Right now we see Kings experiencing the highs and lows. Some are in storms or under attack while, on other fronts, there are great victories. We (and God) don’t control where the enemy may strike or what decisions those around us will make. Stuff happens… things change! Our resolve is like steel but our plans and expectations are very flexible. We anticipate risk and we’re not taken by surprise of something goes wrong. The reason God calls us overcomers is because there are plenty of things to overcome.
FYI: I learned (and am learning) how to manage risk day trading. That world is 5 -10 decisions a day that require a quick decision based on an evaluation of the risk of a loss. The same decision logic applies to the rest of our lives too. Special thanks to some generous mentors; Greg Dalessandri and Dan and Nathan Gaub. I also want to recommend Who is God by Harold Eberle. We summarized this book in Releasing Kings, Chapter 7. Also, Trading in the Zone by Mark Douglas helped me understand how our inner healing issues can bias business decisions (most spiritual secular book I’ve ever read).
John and Sue
PS: I want to recommend some follow-up reading.
Who is God by Harold Eberle provides the best explanation of the open view of God. It’s must reading that connects our perception of God with everyday life.
Releasing Kings for Ministry in the Marketplace takes that foundation into marketplace ministry and the entrepreneurial nature of Kings. Fruit in the marketplace naturally springs out of sound doctrine.
Desire to Destiny – Takes the foundation and marketplace ministry and puts them in the context of seven practical keys or stages of growth you can apply in your own life.
You’re invited into the vision to release Kings; communicate the message, make the money, and do the mission.
1.The Message – Our first goal is to get the Releasing Kings message into the hands of the messengers that will carry it… do it, preach it, teach it, example it.
2.The Money – The second goal is to help Kings break out of poverty by networking them with practical opportunities to prosper. We want to introduce them to the right people, the right opportunity, and the right financial approach.
3.The Mission – Network Kings with opportunities to mix business and missions. Accomplish the great commission through the marketplace.
You can get your copy of Releasing Kings for Ministry in the Marketplace or Desire to Destiny at