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“The Workmanship of Risk”
“The basic idea is that there are two types of workmanship worth considering in the world: the workmanship of certainty and the workmanship of risk. The workmanship of certainty is work where the results are, more or less, predetermined. This would be like work on an assembly line. It would also be like building furniture made from particle board from IKEA. The end result is absolutely known before the work actually begins. There is a lot of comfort to workmanship of certainty. The end result is guaranteed before the building begins. This is a lot less stressful than the workmanship of risk! But it doesn’t engage us in the same way the workmanship of risk engages us. And it doesn’t produce surprising works of beauty that showcase the gifts and talents of people like the workmanship of risk does.
The workmanship of risk is the idea that a crafts-person is highly involved in the creation of something. And the thing being created is always at risk. It could, at any moment, be ruined or dramatically changed. In other words, the outcome is not certain. The skill of the crafts-person might lessen the risk, but the project is always, to a measure, in doubt. We don’t have a finished picture of the work before we have begun.
This has many correlations to work in the kingdom of God. I am afraid we, too often, start acting as if we are doing workmanship of certainty. We look for the right pieces to plug in because we are looking for guaranteed success. As if we are workers on an assembly line. We don’t risk because we are afraid that we will ruin whatever we are doing. Because we won’t risk, we are bored and we settle for half-hearted results. This is similar to the distracted way a person might be able to work on an assembly line. The work doesn’t require full engagement of all our being. It is boring.
But we absolutely need faith in this work we’ve been called to! All of us do! And we don’t know what the end result will look like. We are actively engaged, whether we like it or not, in workmanship of risk. And the sooner we recognize this the better!”