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Oxford Martyrs

I left a stable ministry position to plant a church at the age of 45. I patted myself on the back for being willing to take a risk.

The reality: I was only risking my standard of living, and not even a lot. I moved to a community I love and enjoy my work. A martyr I’m not.

Around the same time, a friend moved his wife and young children to northern Chad to work in a Muslim-majority area. I remember thinking to myself that church planting is hard, but my friend’s example helped me put things in context. It’s hard, but it’s not that hard. My friend’s sacrifice is bigger. Honestly, my position and even my sacrifices are a privilege.

My point — more to myself than to anyone else — is that we guard against overstating our level of sacrifice. It’s tempting to think that we’re sacrificing more than we are. We put lids on what we’re willing to risk because we already think we’re way out there, when in reality we’re playing things safe.

“The irony is we stand up and talk about Daniel in the lion’s den but then we won’t even confront elders,” says Andy Stanley. We follow someone who gave his life so we could live, and read about apostles who gave up their lives for the sake of the gospel, but are often overwhelmed when taking even small risks in ministry.

462 years this past Monday, Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley were burned at the stake in Oxford, England. As they died, Latimer encouraged his fellow martyr. “Be of good comfort, and play the man, Master Ridley; we shall this day light such a candle, by God's grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out.”

It puts our sacrifices in perspective. Others have given much. Are we prepared to risk more?