Risk and Reward

In most endeavors of life we regularly weigh the “risk vs. reward” factor.  Is the probable risk worth the ultimate reward? 

Serving Christ has its risks, no doubt.  Real discipleship can cost us dearly in the areas of time, money, comfort, popularity, and career advancement.  It can even cost us our lives.

Since my decision five years ago to move full-time in the mission of Strategic Renewal there have been definite risks, but great rewards.  Perhaps your determination to honor and serve Christ has proven costly as well.  Following Christ is never easy, often confusing, and sometimes demanding beyond imagination.  Still, it is worth it when lives are being changed for eternity.

The Eternal Perspective

At the end of his life Paul declared the eternal perspective that kept him in the fight when the risks were painstaking and the rewards seemed elusive.  After all, he was hours away from having his earthly life and ministry snuffed out by Nero.  Still, he wrote, “Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Timothy 4:8). 

When we think of rewards and crowns, our concepts can be a bit ethereal.  But Paul spoke very practically about this in a couple other passages.  Consider his line of thought in Philippians 3:20-4:1: “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself. Therefore, my beloved and longed-for brethren, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, beloved.”

Our Joy and Crown

In light of Christ’s reign and heaven’s reward, Paul declared that the people to whom he ministered were his “joy and crown.”  Again, in 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20, Paul wrote, “For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming? For you are our glory and joy.”

My joy and crown are not just in sermons I’ve preached, programs I’ve maintained, or organizations I’ve established.  It is not about events I’ve spoken at, books I’ve written, or the miles I’ve traveled to serve Christ.  The ultimate JOY and CROWN in heaven for me will be the lives that have been changed by Christ, His word, and His Spirit – working in and through me.  This is ultimately true for all of us.

Specific Gratitude and Reward

So, friends, thank you for being my joy and crown.  The list of specific examples could go on for pages.  But, today as I write, I think of a handful of specific examples that make the risks worth the reward:

  • Testimonies of changed lives are my joy and crown.
  • Churches that have been transformed through the experience of worship-based prayer are my joy and crown.
  • Pastors who have been encouraged and infused with fresh vision are my joy and crown.
  • Pastoral couples we have assisted in order to keep them in the fight are my joy and crown.
  • Countless people who have been led to Christ through these renewed leaders, churches, and church members are my joy and crown.
  • Leaders who write to us from all around the world to share how they have been helped are my joy and crown.
  • Students whose lives are being challenged and transformed as they prepare for leadership in our country – these are my joy and crown.
  • A staff team that loves God’s people, His call, and one another are my joy and crown.
  • Board members who serve with joy, endurance, and a spirit of prayer are my joy and crown.
  • My own children who love the Lord and desire to serve Him with their lives are my joy and crown.
  • Most importantly, my faithful wife who sacrifices so much to support my call is my joy and crown.

What’s On Your List?

So, what risks are you taking for Christ today? Will you believe to the core of who you are that it is worth it? Will you focus on your eternal reward? Take time to list the “joys and crowns” of your life and ministry.  Then humbly thank our Christ for the privilege of serving Him and, in some small way, being useful for His work in seeing lives transformed.

Copyright © 2012 Daniel Henderson. All rights reserved.