by Rick Warren
Last month we began exploring how we can take wise risks as leaders and the effect fear can have on us as we begin to think about taking risks. This month I will begin discussing the six necessary steps for assessing risk.
1. The first step is information. Get the facts.
Before you do anything, before you make the decision, you need to get the facts.
Proverbs 14:8 says this, “The wise man looks ahead. The fool attempts to fool himself and won’t face the facts.” A lot of people live in denial. They deny that their marriage is in trouble. They deny that their health is in trouble. They deny that their finances are in trouble. They won’t face the facts.
Eighty percent of all new businesses fail within five years. Why? Because they’re started on a foundation of uneducated enthusiasm. They haven’t done their due diligence. They haven’t done their marketing, their planning, or their research. They say, “I’d like to do this. It sounds like a good idea. I’ll just do this.” And that’s why they don’t last five years.
A lot of people go into marriage with uneducated enthusiasm. They haven’t done their due diligence and they haven’t thought it out. Proverbs 24:3 says in the Living Bible “Any enterprise is built by wise planning, becomes strong through common sense and it profits wonderfully by keeping abreast of the facts.”
So what do you do? Educate yourself. Find out all you can about the decision you are about to make. Read books, go to seminars, and talk to people who have made the same sort of decisions. Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Airways, wrote, “I learned from the failures of the founder of Laker Airlines. I learned from other people what I want to do and what I don’t want to do.”
One of the best things you can do is find a mentor for yourself. Everybody needs mentors. Mentors have been very important in my life. My first mentor was my dad. My second mentor was a guy named Harry Williams. Billy Graham has been a mentor to me. Bill Bright has been a mentor to me. W.A. Criswell was a mentor to me. Peter Drucker was a very important men tor to me. I used to drive up to his home, sit in his home, take a bunch of questions and say, “Help me with this…Help me with this…” Because no matter how talented you are, you need a coach. You may be Kobe Bryant, but you need a coach. You may be LeBron James but you need a coach. You may be Shaquille O’Neal but you still need a coach. Everyone needs a mentor. You will never get to the stage where you cannot learn from others.
The Bible tells us in Proverbs 23:23 in the Living Bible “Get the facts at any price so you know what you’re doing.” Then look at this next verse. The Bible says, “Every prudent man acts out of knowledge.” So you can act out of ignorance or you can act out of knowledge.
2. The second step is evaluation. That is count the cost.
After you get the facts, now you’ve got to count the cost. You have to analyze the risk and ask, What will this cost in terms of time and money and emotion and energy and effort. Everything has a cost to it. Jesus said this in Luke 14, “Don’t begin until you count the cost. Who would begin construction of a building without first getting estimates and checking to see if there’s enough money to pay the bills.” Jesus is saying before you build a building you obviously have to estimate the expenses. Then He says “And no king goes to battle [goes to war] without counting his troops first.”
Every decision in life has a price tag. It may not be a financial cost but it’s going to cost something. It may cost you your time which is the most valuable thing you possess. Every decision cost some time. And you’ve only got a certain amount of time so you’re never going to get that time back. You’re giving your life away. So ask yourself, is this a wise decision. Is this necessary? Is it worth it? Is the risk worth the reward? Is the pain worth the gain? Is the problem worth the payoff? Get the facts and count the cost.
3. The third step is preparation. Plan your steps.
You must have a strategy. What are the specific steps you need to take to reach your goal?
I’ve met some people who think planning is unspiritual. They say, “I don’t need to plan! I just wait on the Lord. I’m just trusting the Lord.” It sounds spiritual, but it’s so passive. God says tells us to plan. Chirst had a plan. If you want to be like Christ, if you want to be like God, if you want to be godly, you need to learn how to plan. When you say, “I’m just trusting the Lord. I’m just waiting in faith. I have no plans for my life.” That’s not faith. That’s presumption. People say, “I’m waiting for God to tell me His will.” I think, what do you want Him to do? Write it in the sky? He’s not going to do that. God has already given you most of His will for your life. He gave you the Bible, and he gave you a brain. He expects you to use both of them. If you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail.
3. The fourth step is to ask God to guide your plans. Pray.
Proverbs 16:9 “We should make plans counting on God to direct us.” You ask God to guide the plans. So it’s prayer and preparation. It’s both. If you plan and you don’t pray, that’s presumption. If you pray and don’t plan, that’s presumption. You need to do both. You pray and you plan. Prayer and preparation go together.
As a leader, people are not only looking up to you, they are counting on you. Do not take this responsibility lightly. Honor God, do your homework, and act boldly; but do so with wisdom.
Next month we will look at the final three steps you need to take to ensure your risk as a leader is a wise one.
Rick Warren is the Founding Pastor of Saddleback Church and author of many internationally best-selling books, such as The Purpose Driven Life and The Purpose Driven Church.