I went to Wheaton College, a small Christian college in the midwest where they take their academics seriously and their faith even more seriously. Students in those days were required to attend chapel 4 times a week. (I hear it is only 3 times a week now and that just seems lackadaisical to me, since I had to walk in the snow, uphill both ways….) I have some fantastic memories of my roommates and myself running up those chapel steps, especially late in the semester, so our attendance would count…yes, they took attendance. By senior year, it was common for students to feel a bit “put out” by this requirement. When you are busy planning for adulthood, things that feel authoritarian need to be put in their place.
I distinctly remember one chapel, my senior year, where the lecture was given by a favorite professor in the communications department, Dr. Em Griffin. He wasn’t my favorite as he had once been completely unsympathetic when I had the flu and had to miss a test, but everyone else thought he was amazing. My guess is, he was amazing and I had a bad attitude. His talk that morning had a repeating phrase as he imparted his wisdom to an auditorium full of students, “You have to risk big to win big!” He gave many examples about how life offers choices that require risks. If you always choose what appears safe, you might miss out on the big victories. The truly successful people in life are not afraid of risk. In the weeks that followed, my snarky-ready-to-graduate-and-get-in-the-real-world friends and I had some fun with Dr. Griffin’s phrase…yes, we had some fun with that phrase.
Now, a quarter of a century later, I remember very few chapel speakers, which is a shame. Wheaton invites amazing leaders and speakers from around the country, and the world, to their chapels. However, the words of Dr. Griffin have come to me at some important moments in my life and I have followed his advice and been blessed. Choices that were not logical to other people but were right for me, required me to risk and wait. Sometimes doubt creeps in during the waiting period. The fear that the risk might not have been worthwhile can scare the pants off any rational person. However, I have yet to regret the big risks as they often reaped rewards that went beyond expectation.
Part of my job as a counselor is to encourage clients to live life abundantly. We often get stuck in what we think is safe, only to find that safe can be limiting and can lead to dissatisfaction. Safe can sometimes be dangerous to relationships, careers and family life. It is an ongoing challenge in life, to run toward the potential in each of us individually, the potential in our marriages and families, and the potential in our life course.
What is it that you need to risk to get what you desire?