There was a summer reality show years ago called The Scholar. In its first episode, the only Southern student, Davis, from Memphis, TN missed winning a $50,000 scholarship when he could not name the author of Gone With the Wind. His mother took it well. I would have killed the kid! GWTW is a staple in our home. We’ve had dogs named Pittypat, Scarlett and Sherman. Of course, neither of my sons knew the answer either!

The six-week long competition took place on the campus of the University of Southern California with three judges constantly observing and making notes. They were seeking a student with the capacity and courage to take risks. While that is quite a desirable trait for job candidates, I had never known risk-taking to be a characteristic sought in college applicants. BRILLIANT!

For many years I have conducted a course where in attendees seek to discover and use their spiritual gifts. Discovering your gifts is fairly simple. The real challenge is having the courage to take the risk to effectively step up and use them. One of the books I use is John Ortberg’s, If You Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat. There are some extraordinarily gifted folks out there watching life pass them by because they lack the courage to, as we say, get off the couch and get out of the boat.

In Right Risk, a book about courageous living, author Bill Treasurer writes, “The quality of our lives improves in direct proportion to our ability to take on challenging risks. Consider this simple fact: no one ever achieved greatness without taking a risk…Giant leaps with your life start with giant decisions in your heart…The low-frequency sadness that a lot of us feel is merely a longing for the person we are supposed to be. We miss ourselves. We miss the self-denied. We were called but we didn’t choose.”

When there are decisions and choices to make, risk is always involved. With risk comes fear, most often fear of failure overfed by our own insecurities. We fear rejection. We are mortified by the word, “NO!” Because we are human, fear NEVER goes away. If we succumb to our fears and insecurities and allow the opportunity to pass, we become more hardened and apt to take the safe way out again and again. It’s a syndrome I refer to as ‘sit, soak and sour.’ Eventually you will die of boredom and stagnation. Imagine how those who live with you feel!

“Living in the shadow of your unused potential can be a dreadful burden. Both inertia and laziness leave scars of safety. Many a bar stool has been warmed by the seat of a man whose most taunting recollections are of the risks he didn’t take,” (Treasurer). Solution: Let the “no’s” you receive define the direction of your journey and refuse to allow them to stop it.

Treasurer further writes, “Any risk situation has a grand continuum: You are either moving in the direction of your courage or moving in the direction of your cowardice…You could spend your whole life being a coward and no one would know it but you….In staking your reputation, you affirm your belief in yourself. You are essentially saying that you have enough confidence to trust your inclination.”

Risk is always about the future. Taking risks is the vehicle to your future. Where do you want to go? Where do you want to be? You aren’t likely to get there by staying where you are. Get off that couch and leap out of the boat! At the very least you won’t sit, soak or sour.

~From the desk of Becky Morlok~

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