Ruach Risk-Taking is a term developed by Rabbi Rich Nichol. His congregation is called Ruach Israel (Spirit of Israel), so I guess that’s where the term comes from. But today I will use the term “Ruach” and apply this to our relationship with the Divine Presence. I thought we might explore together how to exercise spiritual entrepreneurship, on whatever scale, small or large.
The first things one should do is to prayerfully identify a project with a goal attached against the background of these considerations:
- Scripture – What in Scripture speaks to you in a manner related to what you are contemplating? Does Scripture motivate you in this direction, does it show you green lights? Or does it show you yellow lights of caution, or red stop lights? How does the Scripture fit into this idea?
- Tradition – What about the wisdom of the ages, especially in your particular context. We should not be so foolish as to imagine that people who are dead have nothing to say. G.K. Chesterton asked why people should be deprived a vote in communal matters simply because they are dead. This is why he defined tradition as “The democracy of the dead.” Smart man!
- Reason – Does your idea make any sense at all? Sometimes what is reasonable to you is insanity to the other guy and vice versa. But you owe it to yourself, your associates, and probably to your insurance company, to make sure that what you are contemplating makes some kind of sense.
- Context – The need the hour – Are you addressing something that matters in your world of operation? And is there a fighting chance that you can make a difference in this matter? It helps to keep in mind the wisdom of Stephen Covey who counseled us to bear in mind the distinction between our circle of interest (all the things that ring our chimes) and our circle of influence (the areas where we can make a difference). He urges us to spend our time in our circle of influence instead of simply in our circle of interest. What changes can you make at this time and in this place?
- Experience – What does your prior experience and that of your colleagues have to say about this possibility?
Articulate your goal – State what you are trying to accomplish in a brief, muscular statement including some measurable outcome by which you might measure success or failure.
Assess what affordable and reasonable resources you can afford to “invest” in this project. What can you afford to invest in time and money to explore this project?
Act – Take some sort of action toward accomplishing what you have set out to do
Assess your results.
Accomplish – What did you accomplish? And what did you learn about yourself, your team, your context. and your project?
Adjust – On the basis of all of this, make adjustments in your approach.
Again – Repeat the process, beginning with articulating your goal in brief muscular language, including a measurable desirable outcome.
Let’s talk about people’s biggest fear in all of this. The risk of failure.
- Some people seem to be allergic to taking a risk. They avoid it at all costs. But we must acknowledge that exercising faith demands risk-taking.
- Failure in your attempts is no sin: but failing to take a risk is. Yeshua’s teaching on this mater may be found in Matthew 25:14-30 (The Parable of the Talents). It was the person who refused to take a risk who was harshly criticized by his master.
- Every failure in Risk Taking can be redeemed by being conscientious in noting the lessons learned from the experience, not repeating the errors, and not failing to learn from what works.
This past summer I met the most remarkable man I ever met, Andrew White, the Vicar of Baghdad, a brilliant man with three PhD’s with the gentlest of souls and the purest of faith who has spent much of his adult life being a peace beacon and a peace maker amongst people like Saddam Hussein, Tarik Azziz, Yasser Arafat, Benjamin Netanyahu, the Taliban and Haredi (Ultra Orthodox) Jews, all of whom, in varying degrees, consider him a trusted friend. At the conference where I heard him, he took Yitzhak Rabin’s statement, “You don’t make peace with your friends (but with your enemies)” further: “We are called to make peace with some bad people.” He also reported a conversation with Pope Paul II who suggested to him a credo by which he lives. It is something like this: “Don’t take care: take risks.” And he does. And the world has been a markedly better place because Canon White, in faith, and as sent by the Prince of Peace Himself, does take risks.
Do I? Do you?
May God guide all of us to some holy Ruach Risk-Taking