There was that word again! I had now heard that term used on three different occasions and in three very different sermon messages by three different people. Obviously, when I hear the term used three times in a week, I take notice. A “Risk-taker” is defined by Merriam Webster as “a person who is willing to do things that involve danger or risk in order to achieve a goal”.
When asked this week if I considered myself a “risk-taker”, I adamantly said, “NO!” Perhaps in my younger years I have attempted some fool-hardy stunts that may have been considered risky to life and limb, but as I have aged and I hope grown a little wiser over the years, I no longer feel the need to risk injury to myself if a stunt should go awry. For example, when I was a young teen, I used to walk along the Sooke Flowline (pipeline). The flowline is now an abandoned 44 kilometre concrete aqueduct that snakes through the Sooke Hills from Sooke Lake to the Humpback Reservoir, but when I lived in Sooke in the 70’s, it was used to supply water to the city of Victoria. My brother and I often walked on the pipeline with our dog, Champ. The diameter of the pipe was a little over a metre, which was actually not too bad to stay balanced on, but with a dog passing by us almost continuously, not to mention the 30 metre (about 100 feet) drop over some of the trestles, and no guard rails at all, there was definitely some danger in walking along it. I only realized how risky it was when my Dad decided to join us one time on our walk, and after we scooted ahead of him and traversed a particularly tricky spot over a trestle with a one hundred foot drop down to a creek, Dad banned us from ever walking on the pipeline again. The conversation with my mother after we got home was laced with some colourful expletives and the terms “crazy kids”, “could have gotten themselves killed”, “what were they thinking?” and lastly, “they even took the dog!”
I am not a risk-taker now, at least I don’t think so. I used to play soccer in high school, but even running up and down a soccer pitch and blocking a few hard shots with my head became too risky an athletic endeavor for me. Getting carted off the field on a stretcher a couple of times in one game made my coach ask me to re-evaluate my ability to play that sport again. I enjoyed watching my son play hockey and soccer, and I’m sure when the grands start playing more sports, I will be right there cheering them on, but if they get hurt…well, that may hurt me more than them. I’m a bit over protective.
I like watching others do some risk-taking activities, but I’m definitely okay just sitting on the sidelines, or safe and sound in my lounge chair watching athletes on T.V. downhill ski, skateboard or rock climb. I feel no need to push my physical limits in that way. I’m basically content walking around the gym track at my own pace. Safe. Secure. A little boring. That’s okay with me.
So why has that term “risk-taker” been presented to me three times this week?
Context is key here. My Pastor made a bold statement in his sermon on Sunday: “As Christians, God has called ALL of us to be risk-takers.” A young woman at a women’s event I attended last Friday said that if it were not for her taking some calculated risks to strike up conversations with other women, a key ministry for young moms would never have happened in our community. She and others were called “risk-takers”. Finally, a devotional reading this week challenged me to take more risks in sharing the Gospel with others. Risk-taking in this context is not necessarily something that will take a physical toll on my body, but it may cost me in other ways.
As a writer, my comfort zone is being safely alone, tapping out words of encouragement through my books and this blog. I am very intimidated being face to face with someone, and saying basically the same things in person as I might write to them. I like to write cards. I like to text. I like to communicate through social media. I get flustered and tongue-tied when I’m in person and eye to eye with someone. If I could just read a script with small talk, I’d be okay. I’m pretty good, sharing my faith through my writing, but in person, it’s quite another story.
I had stepped out of my comfort zone to strike up a conversation with someone I’d never met before in church. After exchanging pleasantries she had asked what I do for a living. I laughed and said, “I’m a writer. I don’t make much of a living doing what I do.” “I could never do what you do.” she said to me. Her comment puzzled me. “Write! I couldn’t do what you do in a million years.” It had never once occurred to me that I was a risk-taker in my writing ministry. I smiled and thanked her for the encouragement, and then I praised God for the opportunities He has given me to write.
Perhaps seeing risk-taking from a new perspective was just what I needed this week.