‘The Gambler’ was a huge hit song by Kenny Rogers. When the song came out in 1978, I was a little girl, but the lyrics are still memorable decades later: “You’ve got to know when to hold ’em, Know when to fold ’em, Know when to walk away, And know when to run.” The song was about the importance of being aware of your surroundings—knowing when to take risks and when to wait. It was all about making a calculated decision.
Although I am not advocating gambling, I believe there are some lessons that we can learn from those who play to win.
- They recognize the importance of self-control. Out-of-control emotions will cost you a lot of money, time, and energy.
- They are observant of their surroundings.
- They know their limits. They count the cost(s).
- They are always learning. They make a point of understanding the rules as well as the odds.
- They are analytical and utilize critical thinking.
- They understand the value of patience and trusting the process.
Notice that each risk is purposeful and doesn’t occur haphazardly. Every day, we take risks whether we realize it or not. Our decisions can result in consequences that are not just good or bad but complicated. Those decisions can impact our health and our happiness. Our decisions impact our finances and influence our future. I often remind coaching clients that every time you say ‘yes’ to something, you are also saying ‘no’ to something else.
God has given us a powerful gift—it is the gift of choice. God also gives us a choice in how we choose to live. “Today I am giving you a choice. You can choose life and success or death and disaster. I am commanding you to be loyal to the Lord, to live the way he has told you, and to obey his laws and teachings. If you obey him, you will live and become successful and powerful,” Deuteronomy 30:15-16, CEV.
You, too, have a choice in the life that you will live. The Bible gives evidence of the repercussions when we choose to place everything else above our relationship with God (Exodus 20:3–6, 1 John 5:21, Psalm 115:4–8, Isaiah 44:9-11).
When God is not our priority, ultimately, we are making a decision to give importance to other aspects of our lives. For many, we give up our power to others and to situations that do not serve us well. We stay in jobs that are toxic and dehumanizing.
We remain in relationships that demean us and do not add value to our lives. We keep company with friends that are negative and nice-nasty because of familiarity. We worship in congregations that feed us milk instead of preparing us to digest meat (1 Corinthians 3:2).
Adam and Eve were given an opportunity to make a choice. In Genesis 3, the serpent convinced them that God was trying to keep something from them by prohibiting them from the tree in the middle of the garden. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil,” Genesis 3:5. Since that time, we, too, have been on a quest to do whatever is permissible—not beneficial (1 Corinthians 10:23-24), because we believe we are missing out, that we are being denied.
Adam and Eve knew what God said. They had the opportunity to walk away but instead, they made a choice that cost them everything. It’s important that we realize when it’s time to walk away from those things that are not in our best interests. We need to pay attention when there are serpents lurking in our midst that offer an illusion of concern but are really there to create chaos.
We need to trust what God said and stand firm on it. Joseph is an example of this. When Potiphar’s wife was trying to seduce him, he could have easily fallen into the trap of temptation but he chose to run (Genesis 39). Know when to walk away and when to run.
(Dr. Froswa’ Booker-Drew is the president of Soulstice Consultancy and the founder of the Reconciliation and Restoration Foundation. She is also the author of four books and the host of the Tapestry podcast.)