Why We Don't Risk

Picture a skinny little boy walking alone, struggling to carry something a little too heavy for his thin arms to lift, yet lift it he must for his own safety. In fact, he must carry his treasure far from his body as he brings it home to boast of his conquest.

Why? The treasure is a big snapping turtle. The only way to carry a snapping turtle safely is by holding its tail and suspending it far from one’s body. Or by killing it first.

The story is not only true, but happened several times. I know, because I was that boy. Sometimes I had to settle for dragging the beast, whose mouth was big enough to snap off several fingers. But the joy I had from capturing the beast was worth it.

Since then I have had more than my share of encounters with reptiles. I caught a water moccasin on a snake hunt once. I had a pet copperhead for a while (his name was fang). I have had at one time or another:

A five foot monitor lizard
An anaconda
An African chameleon
A tarantula (ok that one is not a reptile, I know)
Pythons: ball, rock, carpet, and Burmese (I fed one a bat once, that was fun to watch)
Boas: red tailed, dumerils, and a rare albino
Many native species, including ring-necked, water, king, pine, hognosed, and rat snakes, also iguanas, anoles, skinks, and cayman.
Oh, and turtles. Snappers, box, slider, mud, gopher, and painted, to name a few.

Wow, that is a lot once I add it all up.

I have also had everything from chipmunks to a hummingbird, parakeets and a possum, bullfrogs and butterflies. Oh, and lots of dogs and cats.

Why have I had such a fascination with animals not normally thought of as pets?
Because I get bored easily, and from my childhood to today I am convinced that life was not given to us to be boring.

I also think that makes particular sense to those of us who follow Christ. We have security…for all eternity! That should cause us to be bold. We have the greatest truth on earth….that should make us vocal. We serve the Creator of the universe–that should make us artistic!

But so much of Christianity today is safe. Small. Suspicious.


Go back in your life. Think about a time when you did something unique, out of the box, off the beaten path. How far do you have to go?

When did you last risk? When did you commit to something you knew would be hard, something that might not succeed, something worth risking failure?

Too many of us are addicted to security and averse to risk. We are taught to conform, to obey, to fit in, to be like the rest, to follow the system.

We are taught to be a cog in a wheel.

This is not all bad. We need rules, and we need a system. But this is incomplete.

We also need to be artistic, creative, relentless, passionate, even remarkable for the glory of God. We teach the former far better than the latter.

Do something. Risk. Take a step of faith. See God move.

Be remarkable.

Previous articlePreaching for Youth: Painting the Bigger Picture
Next articleWhen Your Youth Ministry Is Too Weak To Lead
Alvin L. Reid (born 1959) serves as Professor of Evangelism and Student Ministry at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina, where he has been since 1995. He is also the founding Bailey Smith Chair of Evangelism. Alvin and his wife Michelle have two children: Joshua, a senior at The College at Southeastern, and Hannah, a senior at Wake Forest Rolesville High School. Recently he became more focused at ministry in his local church by being named Young Professionals Director at Richland Creek Community Church. Alvin holds the M.Div and the Ph.D with a major in evangelism from Southwestern Seminary, and the B.A. from Samford University. He has spoken at a variety of conferences in almost every state and continent, and in over 2000 churches, colleges, conferences and events across the United States.