Minimizing Risk to Maximize ComfortDaily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
And he said to them, “Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not have two tunics.”
I was a Girl Scout during my younger years. I learned a great deal through my experiences with scouting. One key lesson I learned was to always be prepared. Being prepared and accurately calculating risks are two abilities that are highly valued in our culture. Minimizing risk in order to maximize comfort is the conventional wisdom of our day.
As young professionals, we often focus on minimizing risks in order to build a secure future. We work tirelessly to create the best resume for advancement, we volunteer for extra committees in order to “pay our dues,” we create networks that have the potential to become strategic partnerships, we seek apprenticeships that will prepare us for autonomy, and, above all, we seek to always be prepared. In our day, this is the obvious path to success. Yet Jesus took a different approach with his disciples.
After Jesus called his disciples, he sent them out to proclaim the message of God’s love and to heal (Luke 9:1). His ministry in Galilee was over, and Jesus knew it was time for his disciples to expand his ministry outward. As he sent the disciples out Jesus did not tell them, “Always be prepared. Make sure you calculate the risks before you act.” In fact, he gave the opposite advice. He said, “Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not have two tunics.” Jesus encouraged his disciples not to worry about outward appearance or their comfort on the journey. Instead they were to go as they were, trusting in God’s power, authority, and provision for every need. Trusting God this way involves risk. It also challenges our comfort levels.
Regardless of the ages of the disciples at the time of their sending, for practical purposes, we might say this sending marked a transition similar to the transition we experience when we begin our professional lives. The shift from apprenticeship to autonomy was evident as Jesus reminded the disciples of the power and authority that are found in him. Jesus had apprenticed the disciples into the ways of God’s kingdom, and now it was time for them to act on their own.
Many young people are apprenticed into the ways of a new company or a new career when they first enter the work world. After a season of learning the company culture, receiving mentorship from more experienced workers, and practicing their new trade, they realize their work has become second nature to them. They are now young professionals working autonomously, putting into practice the theory they have learned. Our apprenticeship into the ways of Jesus happens when the Holy Spirit orients our entire existence towards Jesus and his kingdom. God’s love in us then propels us to love and to serve as a result of our identity in Jesus Christ.
Our apprenticeship into the ways of Jesus Christ will change with each season of life. Newlyweds will eventually grow accustomed to their interdependence with Christ in marriage. New moms and dads will eventually learn to set aside anxiety and parent with the peace of Christ. Parents of grown children will eventually see the new opportunities that come along with their empty nest. Regardless of our vocation or stage in life, we all have the capacity to grow from apprenticeship to autonomy. But doing so will almost always mean leaving behind the comfort of the familiar and embracing the risk of following Christ.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: How does the process of minimizing risk in order to maximize comfort play out in your life? Is it difficult for you to trust in God’s power, authority, and provision for every need? Why or why not? What seasons in your life have marked transitions from apprenticeship to autonomy?
PRAYER: God, thank you for apprenticing me into the ways of Jesus. Please forgive me when I desire my own comfort more than I desire to be used by you in your kingdom. Thank you for the life lessons that lead to autonomy. Help to remind me I will never be truly autonomous, because life without you is not true life. Thank you for calling me yours. Amen.
Risk and Reward
Early in every working life, a special transition occurs before you know how to avoid mistakes, yet after you’ve made them. Like when you first rode a bike without training wheels. You knew enough to be confident, yet too little to avoid losing skin from your knee. The transition is special because it marks a movement from novice to know-how, from apprenticeship to autonomy. Or, as we might say, from young to young professional.
The High Calling recognizes that everyone—moms, accountants, geologists—need vocational growth, so we share past experiences and tell lessons from the future. But what about the early days when we simply got out there and did it? In the series, Risk and Reward, we ask, “How did I learn so much in so little time?”