Richard Blackaby Interview: Christian Entrepreneurs & Risk 

Dr. Richard (Rick) J. Goossen, Chairman, ELO interviewed Dr. Richard Blackaby, President, Blackaby Ministries International, on December 21, 2018.  Dr. Blackaby will be the keynote speaker at the upcoming ELO Forum in Winnipeg on April 30th (see his bio HERE)  Dr. Blackaby is the co-author (with his father, Henry) of three books that are particularly relevant to Christian marketplace leaders:  Experiencing God:  Knowing and Doing the Will of God (Nashville, TN:  B &  H Publishing Group, 2008); God in the Marketplace (Nashville, TN:  B & H Publishing Group, 2008); and Spiritual Leadership (Nashville, TN:  B & H  Publishing Group, 2011).  This is the second of a series of blog post related to Christian entrepreneurs applying their faith in the marketplace based on the interview with Dr. Blackaby. This is the third of a series of blog posts related to Christian entrepreneurs applying their faith in the marketplace based on the interview with Dr. Blackaby.

RG:       On the one hand, believers---and entrepreneurs—want to be good stewards.  On the other hand, most entrepreneurs fail at some point and, indeed, may fail many times.  What is a Christian approach to understanding risk in a business environment?

RB:        Of course, there are many kinds of risk.  Some are just foolhardy risks such as being a daredevil or playing Russian roulette.  The Book of Proverbs has a lot to say about prudence and wisdom and being good stewards.  On the other hand, when people came to Jesus and said, ‘I’m considering leaving my business, leaving my home, and following you, what do you say?’  Jesus said, ‘if you try to save your life, you’ll lose it.’ 

I think one of the great challenges for Christians is that we keep trying to save our lives and by saving it we ultimately lose it.  There’s that certain leap of faith where you must trust God and you take a risk in a sense that it’s a risk because you don’t know how it will turn out.  On the other hand, if God’s the one who’s inspired the risk in the first place, you know the One who’s inspired it and you know that He’s absolutely trustworthy. 

I think there’s a tension.  We want to save our life but by focussing entirely on playing it safe we end up losing what should have been significant.  Jesus said if you play it safe, if you’re just trying to always save your life, by being too cautious you’ll miss out on the life God had for you. 

That can really haunt you. You don’t want your tombstone to read: ‘Here lies John Doe, he played it safe his whole life.’  Those who have changed their world have been people who took risks and said I’m not going to spend my life playing it safe.  To take that calculated risk is all right when you’re calculating on the goodness and wisdom of God who’s leading you to take the risk in the first place. 

RG:       Do you think that in the Christian community we need to encourage more prudent risk taking?  Is it any different than in the mainstream?  In the Christian community do you need to say take a God-ordained risk, get out there, try new things, do new things.  Or in the Christian community do we say the individual failed, is not being blessed, there’s no fruit, etc.  What is your perspective on that?

RB:        I think the key is who inspired the risk.  If you simply got bored with your current job and you decided to gamble it all on a new venture, well there’s some good likelihood it may go bust on you.  But for a Christian entrepreneur, you’ve got an advantage because you have the Holy Spirit within you and the Holy Spirit knows the future. The Holy Spirit knows what the economy will be like a year from now.  He knows what the dollar will be worth a year from now. He knows the volatility that is coming and more than that the Spirit of God knows what’s on the heart and mind of God the Father.

So, as a Christian, there are some things happening to you and are available to you that are not available to a non-Christian.  I’ve heard many stories of Christians who felt led to do some things that from a worldly perspective were very risky, but they knew in their spirit that God was telling them to do it.  They trusted that still, small voice and even though no one else was going that way. Sure enough, God blessed it.  God is not obligated to bless every risk that you take.  He will back up every directive He gives.  He will bless His will and so if you are following God’s will, you can expect a blessing in terms of what it is He wants to accomplish.  But if you’re simply wanting to make more money, if you’re just tired of the job you’ve been in for a while and you want something new, then God’s not obligated to bless everything you put your hand to.  He will bless the things He tells you to put your hand to.

RG:  How can some one who is contemplating a risky proposition discern God’s direction?

In the context of the work I do with business people, they will often say, ‘I know how to make money. I know how to do business.  What I’m not so confident in is to recognize the voice of God. I’ve felt really strongly that I should start this company but how do I know that it’s God whose speaking and not just my own voice I’m listening to? Or what if it is actually Satan trying to tempt me to blow my whole fortune by a foolhardy investment?’  Businesspeople will say, ‘I hear these voices sometimes, I get these promptings, but I’m not certain I know where they’re coming from or if I should trust them.’  I would say when you know in your heart that you have just heard from God and He’s told you to step out this way, you can do that with confidence because if you’re in God’s will, you’ve got all of God’s provision and protection necessary to be successful.