What Do They Know About Risk?
We are going to live forever as Christ followers. The first 80 years are going to be here on earth. This truth gives us the freedom to take risks for Jesus Christ. We can try anything and go anywhere that will bring him glory. We are free, but how often do we live out our freedom?
“Have we demonstrated with our lives the joy of being a risk taker? Or have we taught our students to live lives that are 100% risk-free?”
Students are watching us, and they learn a lot about being a Christ follower from what we do. And that concerns me, because I don’t see many Christian students taking risks. The students I interact with want to get everything right; they hate to make mistakes. Have we demonstrated with our lives the joy of being a risk taker? Or have we taught our students to live lives that are 100% risk-free?
Consider the following to teach students how to take risks:
1. The Word is Risk
How often does the word “risk” make it into your teaching? Have you talked about risk-taking with students, or have you pointed it out when a student takes one? My point here is we need to get the idea of taking “risks” into the common language of our students. They need to see it as a everyday thing not a once in a lifetime kind of experience. I like to ask students, what were the last five “risks” you took? Five is a big number and it communicates that they should be taking risks all the time.
I also like to define the word “risk” for students. Many of them think of risk only in terms of physical challenge. Risks, however, can be emotional, spiritual or relational. Simply put, a risk is something challenging that is not natural to do.
2. Live Risk
When I was ten my parents sat my brother and I down and explained how they were going to take the risk of upping their tithe well past the usual 10%. They told us what it would cost us as a family, and they told us about the call of God on their lives and how they want to take this risk to help others. My brother and I loved it! We were all in and wanted to help. Their risk motivated us to make sacrifices and change. If you want your students to take risks, you will need to show them the way. Your actions will motivate them the same way my parents motivated my brother and I.
3. Make Space for Failure
The biggest problem with risk is failure. Honestly, if failure was OK we would most likely take more risks. So let’s make failure cool. I LOVE to tell students to get out there and have some good failures this week! They always look at me like I am idiot because in their world failure is not an option. But when students feel free to fail, they are free to make mistakes and learn from them. The people who hung-out with Jesus all went on to risk their lives for him, and we want our students to do the same.
It’s risky to go this route, but the fruit is undeniable. Talk about risk-taking, modeling risk-taking, and create a safe space for failure. In doing so, you’ll equip your students to be risk-takers for Christ.
About the Author
Doug Franklin is the president of LeaderTreks, an innovative leadership development organization focusing on students and youth workers. Doug and his wife, Angie, live in West Chicago, Illinois. They don’t have any kids, but they have 2 dogs that think they are children. Diesel and Penelope are Weimaraners who never leave their side. Doug grew up in […]