Risk Management has been defined as, “the process of measuring, or assessing risk and developing strategies to manage it.”
When you go into any new project or other type of initiative, you must weigh out your risks. Missing this means your project could run into obstacles that you aren’t prepared to handle, and this could slow you down or even stop you completely.
Therefore, being an effective leader includes the need to measure and assess risk in everything you do, and to develop the strategies that may be needed to overcome them should they arise.
As I continue looking at leadership lessons from Biblical leaders, I come across an interesting event in the record of Gideon.
Shortly after he was called by the Angel of the Lord to, “go… and save Israel from the hand of Midian,” he was instructed by God to do some other work first. God told him to tear down the altars and idols to other gods there in his own hometown, and to set up an altar to the Lord (Judges 6:25-26, see context).
Then in verse 27 we see that Gideon had done as the Lord commanded him, but there’s one statement that I found quite interesting. It reads, “But because he was too afraid of his family and the men of the town to do it by day, he did it by night.”
While some may say this points to a lack of trust in his God to protect him, I think it’s a better example of great wisdom applied to his job.
Gideon was given a project, but also knew that he was going to be needed for other missions later on. Therefore, he had to evaluate and determine the best way to work through this task while maintaining the integrity of the “organization” and the “mission”. Let’s look at the basic risk management process in light of Gideon’s assignment…
- Establish the context – The first and most important thing that Gideon had to realize was what was important to The Boss about accomplishing this mission. He was never told to do it at a certain time or within a certain time frame. Gideon understood what the important part of the direction was before he could make any other decisions… tear down the altars to other gods, and set up a new one to the One True God.
- Identify potential risks – Knowing the bigger picture, and understanding that there was much more that he needed to do, Gideon understood that one of the of the requirements to completing the greater mission was that he was actually alive, or not in prison. Either of those conditions would have presented serious risks to the “organization”. Therefore, his personal safety was a major requirement. Gideon correctly anticipated the response of the local people (see v.30), and took that risk into consideration in his planning.
- Evaluate opportunity costs – Gideon had to make a decision. He had ten men with him, but had to weigh out his options. He could’ve taken his ten men in the middle of the day, but would likely have still been overtaken. Or, he could take his men late at night when they would’ve been much more tired and inconvenienced, but would have run into virtually no opposition. The slight inconvenience on one side obviously outweighed the major costs on the other side.
- Select the approach – Once Gideon knew he could accomplish the mission he was given, while minimizing the risks, he was then able to carry out his task. This simply gets down to making a decision, and implementing your best strategy. The risks certainly did not go away, but Gideon was able to carry out a plan that helped to minimize the impact of those risks.
The goal of risk management is to minimize the effect of potential risks to the project and the organization. When Gideon’s situation is considered in light of this perspective, he appears to have showed great wisdom in carrying out his tasks while leaving his “organization” in the best possible situation to carry on further objectives.
See more from the management by God series!