Editor’s Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Michael Frost & Alan Hirsch‘s book, The Faith of Leap: Embracing a Theology of Risk, Adventure, and Courage, (Baker Books, 2011).
If you’re a Christian, you aren’t meant to live a safe life. You’re meant to live an adventurous life, following wherever God leads you. Anything less than that dishonors God, blocks your ability to grow into the person God wants you to become, and diminishes your contributions to the world.
The only way to truly fulfill God’s purposes for your life is to take the risks God calls you to take – just as Jesus did. So the next time God calls you to take a leap of faith, do so. Here’s how to follow God on a great adventure:
Stop settling for a mediocre life. A mediocre life isn’t good enough for you, since God intends for you to live a great life every day that you’re alive on Earth. Realize that by settling for mediocrity, you’re missing out on many blessings that God wants you to enjoy and many opportunities to do work that had eternal value.
Make Jesus your role model. Jesus’ life was a great adventure, full of risks that demanded courage but led to profound change for the better. As a Christian, God wants you to live as Jesus did, embracing adventure to the fullest. If you shrink back from following wherever God leads you, you’re not honoring Him. But if you love God and other people and make whatever sacrifices are necessary to fully follow where God leads you, you’re emulating Jesus and honoring God.
View life as an opportunity rather than as a threat. Ask God to give you a vision of specific ways that He wants you to serve Him in this world. Let that knowledge excite you and motivate you to seek and fulfill God’s purposes for your life every day, instead of worrying about what trouble might come your way each day. Recognize that any control you may think you have over what happens to you is an illusion, so trying to control your circumstances is a waste of your time and energy. Instead, embrace the opportunities that God gives you each day, and make the most of them, trusting that God will help you along the way.
Pray for the faith you need to overcome fear. It’s natural to feel afraid when you encounter challenging situations, but you never have to give into the fear that you feel. Pray regularly for fresh doses of faith that will empower you to move forward with what God wants you to do, despite feeling afraid, because God is with you. Read God’s promises to you in the Bible and decide to trust them every day. Direct your fear toward a healthy fear of God (a reverence for Him), since that reverence will help humble you and motivate you to follow God’s guidance in your life – which is the best way to handle life’s challenging situations.
Remember that you play a role in the greatest story of all, and it’s urgent that you act. God has given you an important part to play in the great story of what He is doing in the world. If you don’t take action to do your part, the story won’t be the one God wants to write, and our fallen world will suffer even more. But if you do play your part, then you can help bring God’s redemption to people who urgently need it. Don’t delay; act immediately to do whatever God is calling you to do.
Build a community of fellow adventurers. Join other Christians at your church and in your local area to unite around common missions. In the process, you’ll encounter God and each other in new ways. Create a culture of adventure in your Christian community, encouraging each other to take the risks necessary to serve well. Tell each other your stories of what God is doing through your lives. Thank heroes in your community for what they’re doing to honor God and help people; study their lives and let them inspire and motivate you to serve in heroic ways yourself. Pair people up with mentors when possible, so they can learn from each other and do more great work in the world. Encourage others in your church to be courageous in their worship, discipleship, community, and mission pursuits, building everything they do around fulfilling God’s purposes.
Learn to love. Since God is love, there’s nothing more important for you to learn how to do than to love – God and other people. But real love requires taking risks and making sacrifices. Remember that it was Jesus’ great love that inspired Him to make the ultimate sacrifice: dying on the cross to pay for the sins of the world. Since Jesus has done that for you, thank Him by learning what He is trying to teach you about how to love in your own life, which will involve making the risks and sacrifices that He calls you to make.
Don’t be afraid of failure. Realize that it’s worthwhile to try to do whatever God calls you to do, because God wants you to fully use the talents He has given you, and if you never try something, you can never succeed at it. Even if you fail, you’ll fail faithfully, having answered God’s call – and He will teach you valuable lessons in the process. What you learn from your mistakes may make it possible for you to succeed when you try again.
Stand up for justice. Whenever you encounter injustice and sense God urging you to do something about it, move out of your comfort zone and take action to help right the wrong. Stir up holy discontent among other Christians to motivate them to work for justice. Practice spiritual disciplines like prayer, Bible reading, simplicity, and silent reflection that will help you purge your lifestyle of sinful habits that can contribute to injustice, such as greed and gossip.
Serve wherever God leads you. Don’t limit your Christian service just to your church or Christian charities. Be willing to serve God in secular places, from the PTA at your children’s school to your neighborhood’s watch committee.
Be open to fresh insights from the Holy Spirit. Abandon your preconceived notions of how to do the mission work that God has called you to do in the world. Instead, get to know the people you sense God calling you to serve, and ask the Holy Spirit every day to give you fresh insights about how best to go about your work. Then be willing to take whatever risks you need to take to do your mission work according to how the Spirit leads you.
Adapted from The Faith of Leap: Embracing a Theology of Risk, Adventure, and Courage, copyright 2011 by Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch. Published by Baker Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group, Grand Rapids, Mich., www.bakerbooks.com.