I have been thinking about courage and risk-taking lately. For one thing, I recently attended a conference about leadership and there was considerable talk about the need for leaders who are willing to take risks when faced with issues of church growth and development, including new starts and reversing decline.
For another, I generally think of myself as a risk-taker and yet I have found many times in my adult life (from my mid-thirties on, which coincides with my becoming a parent) when I have backed away from that aspect of my personality. (I am not talking about jumping out of airplanes and such - I don't even do roller coasters because they make me nauseous. Rather, I am the kind of risk-taker that can move to a new place, take on a new thing, let go, dream and imagine and put into action, rearrange, a lover of the life adventure.) Maybe I'm just distractable and love a "new shiny." But that has been me, for good or for ill, for most of my life.
In these last years, though, I have let, and with good reasons (family mostly), preservation and safety occupy a higher place than risk-taking. Not that having a family wasn't taking a huge risk, because it was. And it took me a long time to actually be able to do that. And so I don't take it lightly.
It was also a huge risk to allow myself to listen and act upon what I felt God was calling me to. Becoming a priest was certainly not without risk.
But still, I often have felt that I hold myself back, I hold my imagination back, instead of opening myself and my imagination to the possibility of risk. I find myself feeling that I am sometimes just plodding - and that I actually do this to myself. I think I should be plodding and responsible.
I do find that adversity or closed doors increase my risk-taking potential. This is probably true for most people. At any rate, now, as my children mature and I mature as well, I am thinking it's time to get back into risk-taking mode as a way of being and not just something I pull out occasionally when the time seems right.
Of course risk taking at 55 is not the same as risk taking at 20. Let's all thank God for that. I hope I am wiser. But I also hope I can shake free of whatever it is I feel is binding me at this time and know that God is with me as I think about stepping out and where that might lead.