What Is the Difference Between Right Risk and Wrong Risk?

Right Risk, Wrong Risk

The following is a transcript of the audio.

Pastor John you have a new book out, a little 50-page book, titled Risk is Right: Better to Lose Your Life Than to Waste It. In light of our dreams and aspirations, how do we determine which risks would be right or wrong, and which risks God is actually calling us to?

The Church, those who love us and care for us, should be playing a role in the choices we make regarding risks both corporately and individually. Individually, we should seek the counsel of those who have gifts of wisdom and experience, for advice on jobs, marriages, and life patterns.. They can help us avoid stupid mistakes in our lives that would create unwarranted and unnecessary risks. None of us should live in a bubble where we are making all these decisions by ourselves. God ordained that we would be helped by those around us.

A foolish risk would be one taken for something small, or being unwilling to take no risk for something big. The principle is proportionality. The bigger the hoped for outcome for the glory of God, the wiser it is to take a great risk. Likewise, the more insignificant and selfish the outcome, the more unwise it would be for you to take such a big risk for such a small payoff.

Christians should use biblical criteria to discern what the hoped for outcome is that God calls me to pursue, and what the nature of the risk is. Within that balance, only the Holy Spirit can make plain when it is right to risk or not.

Here is a concrete example. Many times, missionaries are told, “You need to get out now because situations are developing in this culture that are going to be very dangerous for you.” They always face a difficult choice at that time. Some will say, “You are right. I should go.” And others will say, “No, we have identified with this people for 20 years. We stand with them. We die with them. We are staying.”

I think both of those choices can be right because the Bible clearly says, as John Bunyan pointed out, there is a time to fly and a time to stand. Paul sometimes stood and was stoned, and sometimes he got in a basket and escaped. Only the Holy Spirit can make plain when we should do one or the other.

Related resource: Risk is Right

Thumb author john piper

John Piper (@JohnPiper) is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is author of more than 50 books, including A Peculiar Glory.