Embrace the Risk


“Life is a classroom — only those who are willing to be lifelong learners will move to the head of the class.” – Zig Ziglar. Married at 20; dropped out of college at 21; his first job was with WearEver Cookware, selling pots-and-pans, door-to-door. What could he know about Life? 

Zig discovered that he could sell. His philosophy: “You can get all you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want.” Management came soon for him at WearEver, but Zig’s world was bigger. He became one of America’s most renowned and respected motivational voices for people who were in the “persuasion business.” A committed and outspoken follower of Jesus, he died and landed in Heaven in 2012 at 86; I met him on multiple occasions.

Zig was right: life is a classroom. You can’t “cut class,” but you can fail to learn the lessons offered there and repeat the course over again. Most never graduate; they just never learn.

As I’ve shared over the last few weeks, I was enrolled – without notice – in a unique life seminar that stretched through the 12 months of 2022. Leukemia University sponsored the experience; the lessons from that period have become more clear as 2023 unfolds and my vitality improves.

Four tenets“a principle or belief”have emerged for me. The chips were down, big-time: one year ago, the odds of me being here today to share these reflections were less than 10%. My sense of my life’s horizon has been recalibrated based on my flirtation with AML – the most deadly leukemia variant. Now, I’m asked – constantly – “what I learned through the ordeal.” I’ve learned a lot, but there are four big take-aways. 

I’ve shared the first two: #1: Pack your Bags; and, #2: Own the Mission (each warranted a focus in my last two PoV postings).

Today is my third reveal: Embrace the Risk.

For the honor students in the classroom of life, bedrock principles that are learned in a specific context of experience often cross over to other aspects of life. Wisdom picked up around the family table can find a valuable fit in one’s career team life; disciplines acquired as a young adult on the athletic field often have great contribution to professional activities.

There’s a widespread premise regarding one’s personal investments: risk is a young-person’s option that declines through the decades. By the time you reach your “Golden Years,” risk-avoidance becomes an accepted boundary within which the majority of accomplished grey-hairs reside. While that may be sound counsel regarding retirement funds, does that take the seasoned leader out of consideration for Kingdom-expanding strategies that are patently impossible unless God shows up?

A lesson learned through my four decades of Kingdom leadership: if your vision can be pursued with the human capacities and financial resources already under your control, real faith is not required and fervent prayer is not likely. When the strategies put in motion to glorify God and expand His Kingdom are not yet underwritten sufficiently to ensure successful advancement, faith becomes more than a biblical concept: it can be – literally – life-or-death, on the front lines of spiritual warfare.

The temptation for “survivors who have risen to the highest levels of lifetime levels of achievement: settle in near the summit and make it the plateau of plenty until death parts them from their abundance.

Coming out of 2022, I’m more committed than ever: God lives in the environment of human risk; security has never been the criterion of Calling. Great men and women of the faith have always been deemed fools by the cautious majority who lived alongside them.

The option: choose “safe” instead and discover as you enter Heaven what God had been willing to do in/through you, had your faith outweighed your fear, because: “…without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6)

What’s your riskiest Kingdom long-shot that is currently testing your faith and cultivating your dependence on God?


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