Saturday, June 30, 2012

How to Not Be a Sissy

About once a week, I call my friend Dale up to see if we can have lunch.  Dale is one of the ministers at the church where I’m serving as an elder, so sometimes we talk serious and sometimes we talk fun.  On this particular day, he suggested a new restaurant, a place called Firehouse Subs in Beech Grove.  (It’s pretty good, by the way.)  When I met him there, as he sometimes does he had a couple of other guys with him, our youth minister and a youth ministry summer intern.  They got there first and had ordered, so I got my food and sat down with them a few minutes later.
I mentioned that sometimes we talk serious and sometimes we talk fun.  Well, a lot of the time we talk fun about serious stuff.  I suppose it is a way to process through the heavier stuff in a way that helps us to keep some perspective.  This was one of those days.  A subject came up that had been seriously discussed within our young adult group the night before, and we started bantering it around.  After a few minutes, I turned to the youth ministry summer intern…a guy who has just finished his first year of college…and asked him:

“So….., what about you?  What do you think we should do about this?”
He started to reply:

“Well, the safe thing would be…”
I interrupted him.

“I don’t want to do the safe thing,” I said.  “I want to do the right thing.  What do you think is the right thing to do?”
As I’m sitting here contemplating what I said to him, I am realizing how ridiculous it was for me to say that.  Not that it is the wrong thing to say.  I believe it to be absolutely the right approach.  The problem is with ME saying it.  See, I’ve spent a large part of my life in various situations settling for the “safe” thing.  I am constantly playing it safe.  I’m afraid to say it, but if I were one of the three guys in Jesus’ parable about the talents (a measure of money) …I would have been the guy to bury his…if you are unfamiliar with the story, that is not a good thing to do.  (See Matthew 25:14-30)

Basically, I tend to avoid conflict.  I don’t take very many risks.  My nephew says I “overthink” everything I do.  (I suppose he is usually right…but, I’m not going to think about that too much.)  Sometimes I wonder how I’ve ever become so successful in my sales career considering how much I dislike rejection.  Perhaps, it’s because I’m in a field where it doesn’t seem so personal when it happens.  Maybe?  Or, maybe I've pushed myself to grow in that area.  Maybe.
Anyway, this has been a battle for me much of my life.  It took me forever to ask my wife out on our first date…the fact is that I only ‘sort of’ asked her out when I actually did get up the nerve.  I have always struggled with this desire to play it safe, but over the years I have gradually grown to blow past my safety ropes and swim in the deep water once in a while.  I can tell you that it does get a little scary out there, but I know that I need to do it to really get stuff done.

Risk-takers are the ones who change things.  They are the ones who make a difference.
I never really came to a conclusion as to the complete right thing to do in my conversation this week.  I’m still working on that.  However, as I think about the concept of not just playing it safe, but doing the right thing in general...well…

Should I say it?
It’s risky.

People might pay attention and notice.

I’m going to do my best to stick with doing the right thing.  I’d like to make a difference, make some positive change, and…
Playing it safe is for sissies! 

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