The lives of great Christian leaders and everyday people teach us that those who follow a God-sized dream need God-sized courage.
They embody the psalmist’s words: Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who hope in The Lord (Psalm 31:24). Do you hope in the Lord? Then be courageous, the psalmist says.
If you haven't discovered it yet, you soon will— if you're going to obey God and dream big, you need courage.
Let's define courage. Wikipedia defines Courage as the ability to confront fear in the face of pain, danger, uncertainty or intimidation.
Courage is having the guts to do what needs to be done, regardless of the fear you may feel or the questions that remain unanswered. When you walk in courage, you have to have endurance, firmness, and fortitude to take a stand and do what is right, no matter what opposition you encounter. In short, courage is having the nerve to do what you know God has called you to do and go after your dream.
Without courage, your assignment is crippled. Even if you have a crystal-clear vision from God about the path you should pursue, it will not alter your direction one bit until you have enough courage to act on it.
Courage moves us from ideals to action, from potential to actuality.
Let me give you four insights concerning courage:
1. Courage is not waiting for your fear to go away. We know this at the gut level, but many times fear is still what holds us back.
Fear is usually connected to the uncertainty about the future. But uncertainty about the future is never going to go away. I tell leaders all the time—uncertainty is why there are leaders. Uncertainty gives you job security.
Wherever there is uncertainty, there will always be a need for leaders, which means always stepping out into the unknown, always requiring courage.
That's why I believe courage is one of the most important traits a leader can possess. I love what Christine Caine says about this...
"We ought to be radical revolutionaries taking great risks to advance the cause of Christ. The purpose of life is not to arrive at death safely. God is looking for a generation that would dare to trust him to do incredible things in and through their lives". — Christine Caine
2. Courage is not gender specific, and it doesn’t require an education, an age limit, or a résumé.
Every single one of us is capable of transferring courage from God into our everyday lives. Courage is the kind of virtue that without it none of the other virtues are possible. The only way to courage is through fear and obstacles, frustration and possible surrender.
What would you pursue today if you weren’t afraid to fail? If you knew for certain that you were the one to make it happen? Go do that. Moving forward requires a certain level of risk, but the possibility of running away somehow feels more perilous.
3. Courage is not inborn like some personality traits. It’s learned.
The natural human response is to run away from what frightens us, what stretches us. But life’s greatest leaps occur when we resist this impulse. Remember when you were completely fearless as a kid? Children often demonstrate courage naturally. Most of us can think back to times as a child when we stepped out in courage.
Whether riding a bike without training wheels, jumping into the deep end of the pool without our floaties, or letting go of the rails to ice-skate without assistance, we learned that progress requires courage. We have to be willing to get out to the edge, look at what is in front of us, summon up the fortitude, and jump.
4. Courage is feeling fear but choosing to act anyways.
Making a difference starts with just simply making a move. We can’t live and lead in a state of fear and inactivity. So many good people sit on the sidelines. As believers, as followers of Jesus, if we’re not chasing after something that is much bigger than we are—and there’s no way we could ever accomplish it without God—then we are playing it too safe.
Here's what Nelson Mandela said this about courage and fear:
“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” - Nelson Mandela
The film Braveheart offers one of the greatest examples of courage in modern cinema. William Wallace so aptly reminds:
“Men don’t follow titles. They follow courage."
Be strong today and be of good courage. You can do this! Never doubt it!