Leadership Lifter: Wise Leaders Take Wise Risks

by Rick Warren

For the last few months, we have been looking at how to take wise risks as a leader. Let’s review. If I’m going to take a wise risk, first I get the facts. Then I count the cost. Then I plan my steps. And, of course, throughout every step, you pray. This month we will look at the fourth step in taking wise risks.

4. Announce your goal.

That’s declaration. You intentionally tell the world what you’re going to do. You go public with your plan and you make a public statement.

Why would God want you to do that? Because goals are statements of faith. When you set a goal, “I believe God wants me to accomplish ‘such and such’ by this date,” you’ve just made a statement of faith. And remember, God is much more interested in your faith than He is in what you do. Because you’re not taking your career to heaven. You’re taking your character. So God says I want you to grow in faith. And the only way you grow in faith is setting goals and taking the statements of faith and saying, This is what I believe God wants me to do. When you do that God is stretching your faith. So you announce your goal.

The Bible says this in 2 Corinthians 4:13 “The scripture says I spoke because I believe. In the same spirit of faith we also speak because we believe.” Faith has to do not just what you believe in your heart but what you say with your mouth. That’s why the Bible says in Romans, “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus Christ and you believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead you will be saved.” Notice it’s not just believing in your heart. It’s saying it with your mouth. Why? Because when we declare our goal we are acting in faith.

President John F. Kennedy knew the importance of this step. He announced his intention. He made a declaration of faith and said, “We’re going to go to the moon by the end of the decade.” That’s a big goal.

When Kennedy made that public proclamation, it was physically impossible to do it. The technology had not been invented. The science was not known. It was an impossible goal. It was a statement simply made on faith. So he announced it and then over the next eight or nine years a team of talented people started problem solving and determined how to achieve that goal.

This is very important. Don’t miss this. In your life never confuse the decision making phase with the problem solving phase. They’re not the same. You make the decision and then you solve the problems. You don’t solve all the problems first. You just make the decision in faith. “This is what I think God wants us to do.” Then you go solve the problems. If you try to solve all the problems before you step out in faith you’re never going to do anything. If you say I’m going to make sure we’ve got good weather for the next 100 days, your ship is never going to get out of the harbor. You’ve got to get out on the water and start facing whatever weather comes your way.

When I started Saddleback church 30 years ago I stood up at the very first service and read a vision. I said this is what I believe is God’s vision for our church. I publicly announced the goal for Saddleback church. I read all the things that I dreamed that God wanted us to have for this church. We set a goal for 2020. That vision was fulfilled fifteen years early, in 2005.

On our 25th anniversary we went to Anaheim stadium and I got up and read that first vision again and said, “Folks, that one’s been fulfills fifteen years early. Now what’s the vision for the next 25 years?” And I publicly announced the global PEACE plan. Where I believe God intends to use this church as a model for hundreds of thousands of other churches, as a model, to fulfill the Great Commandment and the Great Commission of the Global PEACE plan. Planting churches, Equipping leaders, Assisting the poor, Caring for the sick, Educating the next generation. It’s a big goal. I don’t confuse the decision making with the problem solving. We’re very, very confident – I’m 100% confident – that this is what God wants us to do. At the same time I’m 100% humble in saying we don’t know how to do it yet. We’ll figure that out. We don’t even know all the problems yet. But we’re not going to solve all the problems before we get started on it. So I announced it publicly. Announcing your goal publicly builds your faith. It also builds the faith of others and creates accountability.

The question then becomes how do you have a big goal without getting a big ego? How do you have a big dream without having a big head? That’s a really important question. If you’ve ever thought about it, I commend you for it. Because God hates pride. The Bible says that “God resists the proud.” That means that every time I am full of pride, I am on the opposite side of God and I don’t want to be there. The Bible tells us that God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. It was pride that got Satan kicked out of heaven.

So, how do you stay humble as a leader and yet have big dreams? How does God keep you humble? He gives you a dream that is so big that you are bound to fail unless God bails you out. If you have a dream for your life or ministry and you can accomplish it on your own power, it’s not from God. When God gives you a dream, it is so big that you are guaranteed to fail unless He pulls it off. That forces you to trust in Him. When you know that you cannot accomplish anything without God, it is pretty easy to stay humble.

So how do you announce your goal? James 4:15 tells us, “Instead you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we’ll live and do this or that.’” In other words you always proclaim your goal by saying, this is what we believe God wants us to do. But always remember God is in control. He’s in charge. We’re going to end up doing what He wants us to do, even if it is not in keeping with our plans. But that shouldn’t stop you from making plans, assessing the risk, and announcing your goal.

Get the facts, count the cost, plan your steps, and announce your goal.

Join me next month as I discuss the fifth step in taking a wise risk as a leader.

Rick Warren is the Founding Pastor of Saddleback Church and author internationally best-selling books such as The Purpose Driven Life and The Purpose Driven Church.

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