A Biblical Perspective of Risk Management

This is a very brief treatment of why the Bible is a strong advocate of risk management. I was motivated to write this because some Christians do not see the value of disciplines that seek to recognize risk and proactively treat it. Their argument is that God will protect his own interests without our help, and that simply praying for God to protect us is adequate.

First let me state emphatically that I believe that prayer is absolutely essential to successfully weathering any kind of ‘storm’. However, taken in isolation, the above approach does not recognize that God himself has given us a clear biblical mandate for good risk management. Below are several passages taken from the New Living Translation that support this mandate:

Proverbs 22:3 – “A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions. The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences.” This passage shows clearly that it is 1.) Foolish to fail to recognize (foresee) risk, 2.) A wise person takes adequate precautions to proactively deal with risk, and 3.) Failing to do both of these things leads to serious consequences.

There are numerous examples of excellent risk managers in the Old Testament. In Nehemiah 1 we read that Nehemiah’s brother informed him that “The wall of Jerusalem has been torn down, and the gates have been destroyed by fire.” Nehemiah’s powerful response has him courageously seeking the king’s support of a mission to rebuild the walls (Nehemiah 2:1-10). Soon he is secretly surveying the walls by night (2:11-16). Finally he wisely navigates extreme adversity from opponents. Read Nehemiah 1-7 and see Nehemiah was a man of both prayer and action.

The classic biblical example is the historical account of Joseph, found in Genesis 30-50. Because of his enduring faith and spiritual wisdom, Joseph was one of the most resilient persons in biblical history. God had warned Pharaoh of an impending seven-year famine in a dream. Through a series of God-orchestrated events, Joseph was lifted up from prison to proactively manage this extreme risk to the survival of Egypt and its neighbors.

Ecclesiastes 4:12 – “A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” This passage advocates strength in numbers, typically applied to personal relationships but I believe its application extends to teams and organizations. Organizations can do this by securely sharing both information and resources.

Proverbs 21:5 – “Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity, but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty.” Here I am applying this verse to emphasize that once you do recognize the threats, you must be diligent to plan appropriately for them. Otherwise you will find yourself in a compromised situation unable to accomplish your core mission (poverty).

In conclusion, there is a strong biblical basis for a proactive approach to risk management that embraces both prayer and action. We should apply this truth both professionally and in our personal lives.

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