Thursday, February 2, 2017

TWZ 2: Risk-taking, faith, and "doing your own thing"

My oldest son, Zach, loves to do his own thing. He's a risk-taker. He'll try new experiences; he'll meet new people. He enjoys God's good creation. Someday, he'll find it relatively easy to say what needs to be said-- and do it well. (Hey, that comes with experience, wisdom, and being Spirit-led!) 

Where does this come from? Early on, we were to imagine a ton of weight on parenting and experience. For example, when Zach was one year old, we often went to a Thai restaurant and he loved the spicy foods. He once ate an entire lemon-- not just the inside, but the whole thing! He jumped off couches. He laughed loudly. He was early to walk, ride a bike, and read. And so on. But son #2 is, in many ways, the opposite-- and we tried to raise him the same way. So, now we would say that genetics play a big (at least) general part. Parenting and experiences matter-- especially on the specifics-- but a lot of it is a gift.

Because Zach is blessed with talents and a reasonably sharp mind, his broad skills and willingness to risk could take him anywhere-- and into anything. (Son #2's path is much clearer-- in large part, because he's more careful, likes to plan and execute, etc. Son #4 is like Zach and more/less willing to risk in various ways. Son #3 seems to be closer to Son #2.) In terms of work/career, I could picture Zach as an entrepreneur or tending to bounce between jobs or even careers. In work and in life, it'll be exciting to watch where God leads him-- and to see him, hopefully, walk faithfully in those plans and opportunities for Kingdom work (career, family, vocation, ministry, hobbies).

The willingness to take risks-- or not-- presents some benefits and costs, some opportunities and some problems. (Hey, I sound like an economist!) Zach will be less likely to fall into people-pleasing and negative sorts of peer pressure. But he will be less likely to respond to positive forms of peer pressure too. He won't mind making mistakes. So, he'll be less likely to have sins of omission, but more likely to have sins of commission. (Hey, just like his Dad!) He's more willing to be spontaneous, but less interested in planning. He's less likely to worry (Mt 6:25-34), but he's more likely to have sufficient concern for likely problems (see: Proverbs). And so on.

What does this mean for loving God and others? To generalize, I think Zach is more likely to be independent of others (in a healthy way), but he's more likely to be independent from others (who he doesn't like). More important, he's more likely to have a more robust relationship with God-- as one who will take risks, stepping out in faith. (Think, for example, of Abraham in the penultimate stories of Genesis 12 and 22.) But he's also more likely to walk away from God altogether-- as one who fools himself into thinking that he doesn't need God. 

Which path will he choose? I am confident of the general trajectory; I'm certain that I can't predict him very well; and I hope I can enjoy the roller coaster ride along the way.


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