Leverage, Risk, and A Little Poker

On Monday we talked about the risk-failure-success combo and Bear Grylls’ take on the matter. I wanted to continue the thought-stream and touch on something that is near and dear to my heart…

POKER.

I’m just going to go out and say it: I’m good. Borderline cocky. Maybe not, outwardly cocky, but completely confident on the inside. I know how to hold a straight face. I feel like I’m judicious, calculated, and very reasonable when it comes to the risk/reward of certain bets. Part of that is my personality, but the other part rests on past successes and experiences.

On a side note: years back before we had kids, I was a part of a weekly game with some coworkers. My wife decided she wanted to come along and play with us. While she had never played before (I briefed her on the rules on the ride there), she dove in and swindled away all our our money and man-pride.


Part of the lure of playing poker for me falls back to the Risk vs. Reward. Do I fold my hand? Should I be reading my opponent differently? Will my next bet put me “all-in”? While I can’t completely control the outcome, I do have options when it comes to percentages and the risks involved.

While there is wisdom in being cautious and calculated in our decision making, I am learning that when it comes to my relationship with God, wholehearted commitment is preceded by going “all in”. What does this look like? I want to persevere like Noah, who continued to build an ark despite the ridicule and doubts from others. I want to lead with conviction like Moses, who stood up and demonstrated what a life of conviction looks like. I want to stand for God’s people like Esther, who knew her position would be leveraged for justice and truth. I want to be all-in.

Being all in for Him means being all out for me. Will that mean I’ll need to use certain things for the glory of God? Probably so. My influence, my family, my time, my resources – I want to be one characterized my willingness to leverage all that I have for the purposes of bringing glory to God’s name.

Do you play poker? What can be leveraged in your life to bring God glory?

Photo credit: maor-x

48 Comments

  • Ben

    March 30, 2011

    I play poker, used to also have poker night pre-marriage and pre-move to ATL. Penny poker, it was good times.

    I wish to leverage anything, and everything I have to HIS glory. At times it’s difficult, but in the end it will be well worth it.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      March 30, 2011

      Yeah stuff takes time… :)
      (and yes, it’ll be all worth it in the end!)

      Reply
  • Adam

    March 30, 2011

    I played in college. Not so much anymore. Did enjoy it though.

    I hope to leverage all I can for the kingdom of God. There will definitely be some sacrifices, and I pray that I can make those sacrifices without question.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      March 30, 2011

      Sweet. Thanks for the comment, Adam!

      Reply
  • Michael

    March 30, 2011

    I haven’t played cards for nearly 10 years.

    And what can I leverage…man I want my life in general.

    Reply
  • kevin

    March 30, 2011

    I love cards, but I suck at poker. I mean, bad. Keeping a straight face is not one of my strengths. I’m only good at it, because I’m so bad that people don’t know what I’m going to do. Spades, on the other hand…domination.

    good stuff!

    Reply
    • Dustin

      March 30, 2011

      it’s like a sneak-attack play… I like it!

      Reply
  • bill (cycleguy)

    March 30, 2011

    Never have. I like euchre. I want all of my life to be leveraged for Him. Jim Elliot’s quote comes to mind: “Wherever you are, be all there.”

    Reply
    • Dustin

      March 30, 2011

      Haven’t read any of JE’s stuff, but I really like that — thanks bill.

      Reply
    • Donald Borsch Jr

      March 31, 2011

      Euchre! My, I haven’t played that since I left Michigan. Too bad we can’t get a virtual game going, Bill.

      Reply
  • Moe

    March 30, 2011

    I was never a poker type of guy. I was more a cee-lo player. Yup, dice was my thing in the hood.

    As far as what I can leverage for God? I would say my time and gifts that were given to me. I often use them for other things, but I should be using them to glorify him and to edify the Church.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      March 30, 2011

      Dice… nice! My inlaws are dominos folks. I stink, but it’s still fun. (how that relates to dice, not sure)

      Reply
      • moe

        March 30, 2011

        Yeah, that has no relationship to dice at all. #weird.

        Reply
  • kristinherdy

    March 30, 2011

    I haven’t played poker since college. I took away some cash from my friends, but I haven’t had the opportunity to play again.

    He can have it all – Without him, it doesn’t do me any good.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      March 30, 2011

      >>> “Without him, it doesn’t do me any good.”
      I like that, thanks Kristin.

      Reply
  • Justin

    March 30, 2011

    Horrible at poker!

    Leveraging my time for God is huge…I’m working on getting this dialed.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      March 30, 2011

      Time is a big one. For me sometimes I have the intentions, but then actually following through is another thing.

      Reply
  • Jason Vana

    March 30, 2011

    I love poker, but haven’t played in a long time.

    I’m learning to leverage more of my talents in unique ways for Him. Like, using my gift of graphic design to earn extra income so it’s less I have to fundraise through my ministry (and will hopefully get me to be able to focus on my campus ministry more full time).

    Reply
    • Dustin

      March 30, 2011

      Thanks for sharing, Jason. Using those talents so you can, in turn, focus on other things is huge.

      Reply
  • Jon

    March 30, 2011

    Honestly, I suck at poker..or maybe I just haven’t played enough times to really try to understand it (I probably played it one or two times lol!) But, I dislike trying to learn a game when everyone else knows how to play it..so yeah. :)

    I share Bill’s sentiments…I want all of me to be leveraged for God’s glory.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      March 30, 2011

      I know what you mean. For me is Scrabble… not that I don’t know how to play it–I just really stink at it. I’ve never beaten my wife. :(

      Reply
  • mo

    March 30, 2011

    As a rule, I usually only play cards with robots.

    One thing about going all in with Poker: you’ve already seen some of your cards, and you can sometimes guess what other people are up to by their betting.

    But with God, he wants us all-in even if he hasn’t shown us any cards, or if we have no idea what’s going on around us :)

    Reply
    • Dustin

      March 31, 2011

      dude, love that insight. :)

      Reply
  • Jim F

    March 30, 2011

    I love it and love to watch it on tv and will play in free online stuff at times – I have never played for real chips. I love the whole intrigue that surrounds the game. The guessing what others have or don’t have. I love it because sometimes all in scares people which brings me to the Spiritual side. I see it as God is all in every hand. So if I want to play with God – I got to be all in every time as well – otherwise I am sitting out or folding every time and that is no fun at all. So it is all in all the time for me because that is what God does.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      March 31, 2011

      me too, jim – don’t watch it as much… but more than anything, i find what intrigues me is the whole mystery around “who has what” vs “what i have”…. and how can I win even though i might not have the best hand. :)

      Reply
  • Adam

    March 30, 2011

    isnt poker a game that a bunch of heathens play? hahaha.. kidding.. No im not a good poker player.

    Great post man. I’ve struggled with giving up MY things that I want to do. What I think I supposed to do. i just want to be more of what He is calling me to become and less of my version.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      March 31, 2011

      First class heathen right here! :)

      and yes-i need to hear what you said quite often “more of Him and less of me”

      Reply
  • Jason

    March 30, 2011

    I used to play cards all the time and I was pretty good at it. My family growing up used to have family reunions on Labor Day weekend that was nothing more than poker from Friday afternoon until Monday lunch time.

    As for leveraged for God…I want my whole life to be leveraged.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      March 31, 2011

      sounds like my kinda family. good stuff!

      Reply
  • Donald Borsch Jr

    March 30, 2011

    D,
    You said:
    “Being all in for Him means being all out for me. Will that mean I’ll need to use certain things for the glory of God? Probably so. My influence, my family, my time, my resources – I want to be one characterized my willingness to leverage all that I have for the purposes of bringing glory to God’s name.”

    This, to me, is an example of the shrewdness we are taught about from Jesus. Being shrewd is not bad. Also, the Scripture of: “Be as wise as serpents, and gentle as doves”, springs to mind.

    Taking the earthly things we have and, for lack of better word, using them as tools in our lives this side of Heaven is brilliant.

    Shrewd and wise, Master Dustin. Shrewd and wise, indeed.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      March 31, 2011

      Shrewd and wise… I like that, Donald. Like that a lot. :)

      Reply
  • Larry Hehn

    March 30, 2011

    Yep, I’m a pretty good poker player. One of the things I like about poker is that it’s not necessarily the cards you have been dealt, but how well you play them that determines your success.

    I want to leverage my talents for His glory – to take whatever cards He deals me and play them well.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      March 31, 2011

      I can see you having a pretty sweet poker face, Larry. :)

      Reply
  • Jonathan Pearson

    March 31, 2011

    First off, I can’t believe you’re such a sinner. :) This is convicting man. I go “all in” in different areas, but often fail to do it for God. Working on that now!

    Reply
    • Dustin

      March 31, 2011

      LOL… I know, I know. We’re just confessing here, I guess. :)
      (thanks for sharing JP!)

      Reply
  • ThatGuyKC

    March 31, 2011

    I am not the world’s worst poker player, but I do enjoy the game and am fascinated by people like yourself who wield such skill. That’s awesome that the wife cleaned you out. I’m reminded of the poker night on the show FRIENDS.

    As far as what can be leveraged in my life I’m trying to figure out the career path while also volunteering at church and using the blog to make an impact. Definitely a work in progress.

    Great post, Dustin! Keep it comin’.
    Show me the river!

    Reply
    • Dustin

      April 1, 2011

      Career, church, and blog…. I am RIGHT there with you, KC.

      Reply
  • Melissa Brotherton

    March 31, 2011

    I want to leverage my dreams for God. I have ideas of what my ideal life would be; some of those may be from God and others from myself. The thing is, God shatters those dreams, because they’re too small, too selfish and too simple.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      April 1, 2011

      Dream big, like that a lot Melissa. Good thing He knows what He’s doing, right? :)

      Reply
  • Michelle

    March 31, 2011

    I can’t keep a straight face to save my life. People have told me that they can tell by my face what I am thinking or feeling, so no…not a poker player. Which reminds me, I tried to play this game called Mafia once. I kept losing because I couldn’t pull off a bluff. Have you ever played that game? it’s really fun, but I so suck at it.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      April 1, 2011

      Funny you mentioned that. I first played Mafia when I was in college like 8-9 years ago. I won my first game. Don’t think I won after that bc I kept getting voted out. :)

      Reply
  • Keri

    March 31, 2011

    I’m no good at Poker or really any card game in general. I’m so flighty that even when playing a simple game like Candyland with my boys I can’t remember if it’s my turn or which color game piece is me. I’m constantly asking “is it my turn or did I just go?” I do this in pretty much all games.

    What can be leveraged in my life? Wow, that is a great question. I know there are things that He wants that I haven’t yet given up. I’m too scerrred. Don’t want to act a fool. Silly part is, I probably already am acting the fool trying to hold onto it. :(

    Reply
    • Dustin

      April 1, 2011

      Too funny. You are one of “those” board game players. I’m the opposite. :)

      Reply
  • Jk Allen

    April 1, 2011

    Hey Dustin!

    Great article and I be you’re an awesome poker player. I don’t play. But I watch it on TV. I played one time, and I was pretty awful – I realize that it takes time, but it’s just something that I ever spent time on.

    I’m leveraging my strengths (that he gave me/made me award of) and I’m on a mission for him. Wherever he places me, that’s what I have next on my list. It was through prayer that lead me to take a leadership position at my church, despite I didn’t think it was the right move (just because of the time). But through it, I learned that you ALWAYS have time for what you WANT to have time for.

    Great infusion with Poker, Leverage, and God.

    And, it’s great that it’s Friday!

    PEACE

    Reply
    • Dustin

      April 1, 2011

      Jk, great comment. Specifically “I learned that you ALWAYS have time for what you WANT to have time for.”

      That, my friend, is something I seem to re-learn all the time.

      Reply
  • Alex Humphrey

    April 6, 2011

    What goes going all in look like as a father?

    Reply
    • Dustin

      April 7, 2011

      That is a good question: being a father is such an important calling and there are so many things that need to be addressed, considered, prayed about, etc.

      Reply

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