Risk is at the heart of Christianity. Risk is codeword for faith in Scripture. And there's a great definition of faith in Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Faith is risky.
You have to exercise faith to become a Christian. But faith is also the lifestyle of a Christian. Playing it safe will not satisfy us. But we need courage to take risks and face our fear. The good news is that we can grow in courage.
All the great leaders in the Bible have understood this. Few have demonstrated this better than Joshua. Here are four observations from his life on how spiritual courage grows:
1 Find Moses and Serve Moses
Have you seen the Ridley Scott’s Exodus: God and Kings? It's nowhere near as good as the classic Ten Commandments with Charlton Heston. But he does show something of the mentor-mentee relationship between Joshua and Moses. Joshua rarely speaks, but he does watch Moses speak to God. Eventually, Moses calls the curious Joshua to his side.
This is a reminder that Joshua was once a young, inexperienced man. Before God called him to lead his people, he was Moses' assistant (Exodus 33:11). By serving Moses, Joshua has plenty of opportunities to grow in courage.
So who is that mature Christian that you can serve? Who can show you what it means to take risks?
2 Deal with Your Fear of Failure
Can you imagine taking over for Moses? How would you like to be Lebron James’ son trying to make it in the NBA?
God understood that this would be a challenge for Joshua. Listen to what He says, "Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you" (Joshua 1:5).
Recognize it's not about your ability, but your availability. God will give you what you need.
3 Do What You Know
A life of faith is a life of obedience. It is the "ordinary" risks that pave the way for the "extraordinary" ones. Most aspiring leaders are looking for that spectacular vision from God. Whenever they come to me for counsel, I ask them these two questions:
Are you doing anything right now that you know you shouldn’t do? (sin of commission)
Are you not doing something right now that you know God wants you to do? (sin of omission)
It is a risk to obey God in a broken, sinful world. Exercise courage in what God has as said to do or not to do.
4 Soak in the Word
Listen to what God says as he commissions Joshua to lead His people:
This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. (Joshua 1:8)
What does it mean to meditate? It is to think and ask questions about what God has said to hear what God is saying. The Holy Spirit can speak to us in any way He chooses. It just so happens that the vast majority of the time He chooses to use Scripture.
When we encounter temptation or uncertainty, the Spirit calls to mind Scripture. The Spirit speaks to us. He opens our eyes. He shows us the truth.
The more we meditate on God's Word, the more we can hear the Spirit speaking. And the Spirit will not lead us to play it safe. He will invite us into a life of risk. He will give us courage.