cliff-smallBy Dennis J. Trittin

Care for a little cliff diving today? Or, would you rather a dip in the hot tub?
Let’s face it: some of us are risk takers while others are risk avoiders. Some are guided by the thrill of victory and others, the agony of defeat.

I marvel at astronauts, missionaries, combat soldiers, and mountain climbers for their courage. These people risk their lives or their livelihoods because they put the potential reward ahead of the risks. Others prefer to play it safe. Sadly, they end up missing out on many of life’s opportunities or failing to discover latent skills.

It’s interesting how our view of risk frames how we live life and even how we parent. It’s huge! Where do you stand on the risk-o-meter?

I’ll never forget our son Michael’s college search. Destined to be the next Steven Spielberg, he applied to several California universities. One he kept scratching from the list was Pepperdine. Michael’s credentials were a notch below their averages, so he figured he had no chance. Wanting him to “go for it,” I persisted. I stressed that if God meant for him to attend this university, He’d help make it happen. Michael relented after I offered to schedule a visit to Malibu. If nothing else, he’d escape the Seattle rain—and a few class days!

To make a very long and wonderful story short, Michael so impressed the department leader that she wrote a letter of recommendation for him. It sealed the deal and taught him one of life’s most important lessons. If you go for it, God may help you cross the finish line. If you don’t, you’ll never know. So, go!

After meeting Rachel Scott in I’m Not Ashamed, I want to share about another kind of risk that’s of an even higher order. I’m referring to risks that are for someone else’s benefit rather than your own. No doubt, the 12 Disciples are history’s best example of this. But, when you watch Rachel’s story, you’ll see a pretty impressive, modern-day example, too—one you’ll want to share with your children.

Without giving too much away, you’ll see her befriend a young homeless man at considerable personal risk. (Wait till you see what eventually comes of that selfless act!) You’ll see her actively seek out and hang with social outcasts in school (now who really does that?!?). You’ll see her share her Christian identity with a highly diverse audience, including those who would do her harm. And yet, she did all of this knowing that she would face ridicule from the more popular circles in school. Just wow!

We all have opportunities to take risks, even if we can’t predict the outcome. Are there places in your life, somewhere out of your comfort zone, where you might trust God more and go for it?

Cliff diving, anyone?

Dennis J. Trittin is the President and CEO of LifeSmart Publishing, LLC and the author of What I Wish I Knew at 18: Life Lessons for the Road Ahead; and Parenting for the Launch: Raising Teens to Succeed in the Real World. Learn more at