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The Price of Risk and Reward

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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... And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him. And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James and John, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.

Matthew 4:18

As a wide-eyed 20-year-old new believer, I was ready to conquer the world. I was also a young woman on the verge of becoming a young professional. Because of this, during a conference I attended, I listened attentively to Luci Swindoll, an incredibly wise Christian woman. Luci’s resume is noteworthy. She is a former oil executive, an opera singer, a writer, a speaker, a ministry leader, and a lover of life.

Attending Luci’s keynote session about the importance of building our character rather than focusing exclusively on building our careers was a monumental experience for me as a young woman. Luci’s zeal for life and her excitement about vocational growth drew me in to her message.

I will never forget the inscription Luci wrote in a book I purchased from her that day. She wrote, “If the joy of having it (whatever the ‘it’ may be) is worth the pain of paying it off, then the price is right.” Luci’s message about risk and reward applies both to the Christian life and to vocational growth.

The theme of risk and reward is central to the Christian life.

Jesus tells us, “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matt. 10:39). Jesus also reminds us it will cost us to be his disciples (John 14:25-35). Initially, we may think the risk of giving up our own desires and comforts is too great. However, when we begin to experience a transformed perspective (Rom. 12:2), the Holy Spirit enables us to see and receive the rewards of a life lived in Jesus Christ.

Jesus’ first disciples risked a lot to follow him—they left jobs, family, and security. What the disciples saw in Jesus was so profound the rewards of following him outweighed the risks. To the disciples, the joy of following Jesus was worth the pain of losing all that was familiar to them.

Young professionals also constantly weigh risks and rewards. Should I take that entry-level job after college if it is not my ideal career choice? Should I move across the country in order to advance my career? Should I enroll in graduate school to change my career focus? Should I stay home with my child after he is born?

When I have questions like these, I remember Luci Swindoll’s keynote speech. Her charge to allow God to build my character instead of relying on human efforts to build a career is essential to living the abundant life. As God builds my character, he gives me a kingdom lens through which I can view all of my life, including my career. Having a kingdom view of life means God gives me the strength and the desire to love and serve others, even when it is inconvenient. It also means that God enables me to find my true identity in Jesus Christ and not in my job. Perhaps most importantly, having a kingdom view of life allows me to consider risks and rewards from an eternal perspective.

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Whom did God use to influence you when you were a young professional? Why is it more important to allow God to build your character than it is to rely on yourself to build your career? What are some of the risks you experience as part of the Christian life? What are the rewards you experience as part of the Christian life? What are the potential dangers of finding your identity in your job?

PRAYER: God, thank you that a life lived with you brings eternal rewards. When we think we are risking a lot to follow you, remind us that Jesus risked everything to live, die, and rise again so that we might be reconnected to you. Please continue to shape our character. Help us to rely on you instead of relying on human effort to advance our careers. Thank you for calling us your children. Help us to always remember our true identity is found in Jesus Christ. Amen.

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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?”

Featured image above by Zach Welty. Used with Permission. Via Flickr.

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