The Dangerous Business of Playing It Safe

Playing it safe can sometimes be quite dangerous.fear1.jpg

One can choose to play it safe and refuse to risk, venture out, or try anything new.

Yet, a fear-based life comes at a price.

Of course there are times when it might be wise to hesitate before speaking or doing. I am not suggesting that one should not use wisdom or even common sense. Refusing to always play it safe does not mean that one needs to live recklessly.

Yet, far too often, we live in constant hesitation out of fear. Fear can result in playing it safe and, as a result, sacrificing much.

  • Don’t ask people in the church to tell you what they really think. Play it safe. You might not like what they have to say.

  • Don’t talk with that ministry leader in your church about something you disagree with. Play it safe. Instead, find a few key people and get them agitated and disturbed. They might get angry enough to go to that person themselves. In other words, manipulate others to do your work.

  • Don’t disagree with the leaders in your church. Play it safe. They might not like what you have to say. Instead, kiss up to them in their presence, while you say what you really think in their absence.
  • Don’t give people at work your real opinion. Play it safe. You may be the only one who believes the behavior in question is wrong. Then what would others think about you?
  • Don’t preach to the church what you really think or what you believe. Play it safe. Measure your words. Cover your backside. After all, you have to take care of yourself.
  • Don’t reveal that you are weak. Play it safe. Don’t admit that you were wrong. Show people strength, not weakness.
  • Don’t show all your cards. Play it safe. Don’t you remember all of those times when others failed and disappointed you? You can’t really open your heart to these people. They will hurt you.

Play it safe.

Many do.

Sadly enough, ministers/elders/pastors/other church leaders regularly convey to their congregations that they are going to play it safe. Unfortunately, the church witnesses fear instead of faith. What a lost opportunity for a church to trust God.

It really is a paradox. When we spend most of our lives playing it safe, we are actually doing what is most dangerous. In the end, everyone loses – we lose and the people we influence lose.

Maybe one of the saddest statements that could be written about a church is that they had many opportunities to trust God, but they lived in hesitation not sure if he would come through. As a result, they played it safe-and lost.


What fears keep many people from experiencing a life of faith in God? What do we seem to fear most?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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13 thoughts on “The Dangerous Business of Playing It Safe

  1. Hey Jim,

    What an excellent post! I am amazed at how God sometimes won’t let you play it safe! Or perhaps he uses events to help you wake up. I had an opportunity two years ago and I kept avoiding it, it was too risky, it was frightening. I was afraid I would mess up such a beautiful thing. But God (and my wife) kept prodding me and now I find myself in the middle of a beautiful, frightening, exciting ministry working with teams in the US and children in Ukraine. God is good. Demanding, but good. Frightening, but good.

    Just from my experiences over the past two and a half years, I’d say: take the risk before God shoves you into it! And btw, he is faithful. It may not work out quite the way you expected or even hoped, but you will be the better for it!

    • Darryl, thanks so much for this. I love hearing how you worked with this in your own life. Sounds like you have an exciting, faith-building ministry in front of you.

  2. I have been thinking about your post for a while now, and that is a good thing, thank you.

    I think your overall idea is correct, when God opens the door to provide honest input into someone’s life we need to not be afraid of the consequences. Sometimes, however it is not fear but prudence preventing us from speaking. Take Esther, for instance. She did not show all her cards when addressing the king. And concerning advice, I have noticed that when pastors think they are the ones to hear from God, giving advice accomplishes little. Rare is the pastor, or teenager, that listens.

    Thanks for your thought provoking ideas, keep ’em coming.

    • Fritz, you make a great point. Well said. I just want to make sure (in my own life) that want I say or don’t say is governed by prudence or wisdom rather than my own fear. Unfortunately, I can point to a number of times in my life when it wasn’t wisdom that was motivating what I said (or didn’t say) but my own fear and insecurity.

      Great comment, Fritz. Thanks.

  3. Nice thoughts, Jim.

    I think this principle applies in a lot of areas. Some philosophers, skeptics of various kinds, have systematically tried to rid themselves of any beliefs that they could not hold with utter certainty. But the American Pragmatist William James points out that we have two goals when it comes to believing things. First, as the skeptic assumes, we should avoid error. But it’s also important to get to the truth. It’s easy to avoid falsehood–just don’t believe anything. But this doesn’t get us where we want (or need) to go. Sometimes, we must take risks, whether they be epistemic, moral, or even religious. And, if we’re worried about being wrong, that seems like a good time to place our hope in God’s faithfulness.

    • Hi Chris, great to hear from you. I like your comment. In particular I like what you say regarding the importance of taking risks and that being a good time to place our hope in God’s faithfulness.

      Thanks Chris. Hope you are doing well.

  4. Such a superb post Jim. I am convinced that fear, particularly fear of man, fear of failure keeps Jesus followers from so much of the fullness of life in community, with God and for the lost, that we see offered to us.

  5. Liam, thank you so much for the kind words about the post. You are so right about fear and its destructive effects. Great to hear from you!