Take the Second Shot

If you've never played Around the World, it's a simple game played on a basketball court.

Each player makes a sequence of shots from one side of the basket to the other and back again. You have to make a basket to advance, but you can chance a second shot. The consequence of failing this little venture is losing your place, and returning to the very beginning--regardless of how far you'd made it.

And over the course of the dozens of games I've played, I have never taken that second shot.

I used to take pride in that. I thought of myself as the smart, consistent player, like the fabled tortoise. But the difference between me and the tortoise is he actually won the race. I never won one game. You would think after observing all of those stupid risks payoff, I would've learned something. Sadly, I've only recently discovered that consistency isn't the hallmark of good stewardship.

photo credit: cirox via photopin cc
I wonder if the stigma against risks, particularly in the church, is related to gambling culture. Sure, there are some very talented individuals who manage to beat the odds. But most people who walk into a casino quickly learn an important lesson: the house always wins. So why place the bet if you can't win?

Or as it's often conflated in church culture, why take the risk if you can play it safe and go with the guaranteed result? That's how I used to think. Until my comfy, Christian family came crashing down. And when everything I once placed my sense of security in let me down, I finally figured out that nothing in life is guaranteed.

So it's funny to me when some Christians take a sectarian approach to the world because it's too risky. It's too risky to interact with the world because the world might infect us, as if we aren't all infected already. Like the guy who won't to go to a bar where his friend is wallowing because he's afraid of getting drunk or at the very least being associated with drunkards.

Now, there's no guarantee that won't happen. But there's equally no guarantee there will be any other opportunity to help your friend. In Matthew 25, Jesus taught what he expects of his disciples until his return. And if you recall, it wasn't the servant that buried his master's money Jesus commended. It was the two servants that actually made money with what they were given. In other words, the one's who took risks.

Every choice we make in life is a risk. We can't guarantee anything, including that someone else might not dig up what we bury. So why not go for the risks as they come? This doesn't mean being careless or imprudent. It just means that we might get our hands dirty or sustain loses in our lives.

The question is, would you rather be a passive victim of life's circumstances, or a resilient entrepreneur who takes that second shot?