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Friday, February 8, 2013

Character Building: Courage

I recently asked myself, “Do I have courage?”

It depends, I guess. If by “courage” you mean would I willingly jump out of a perfectly good airplane into combat? Then I’m pretty sure the answer is “no.”

But if by “courage” you mean would I confront my friend and brother when he’s hurt my feelings? I found out just this morning that the answer is yes. My feelings were hurt yesterday and I struggled all day and night about it. I was faced with two choices. Do I let it go? Or do I talk to him about it? Oh, yes, there are more choices – like, do I talk to someone else about what happened? Or, I could have posted a rant on facebook™. But these are not my choices and never entered my mind to do those things. I had the courage to confront my friend. I admit, I was uncomfortable, but I knew that our friendship needed this confrontation and our friendship would survive this confrontation. I was uncomfortable. I was scared. But that’s what courage is, right? It takes courage to do the right thing even if you are scared.

It worked out well, by the way. Things were tense for a bit, but it was good to talk directly to each other and begin the process of reconciliation.

John Wayne once said, “Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway.”

Just as integrity is doing the right thing even when the wrong thing is easier, courage is doing the right thing even when it scares you.

Courage is a character trait that is sought after by many people. Joe Banks, in the movie Joe vs. the Volcano, when asked what interests him, replied “Courage! Courage interests me!” He speaks for a lot of men and women, I think.

It takes courage to do a lot of things. It takes courage to ask someone to marry you. It takes courage to take a new job in a far away city. It takes courage to go back to school to learn a new profession. It takes courage to say goodbye. It takes courage to say hello.

How do we get courage? I start by looking for people who model courage. It could be a war veteran. It could be a police officer or firefighter. It could a man who is taking care of his wife during a debilitating illness. It could even be a character in a favorite story.

Find someone who has been in the same or similar place you are and learn how they got through it successfully. Try to do the same or similar thing, as the situation warrants.

The reason that we should have courage and act courageously is because the stakes are high, as are the rewards.

When I act with courage (again, remember it is not the same as acting without fear), I know that someone is watching me, waiting to see how I get through it. It could be my wife or sons or people that I work with. I might be the model they need to learn how to have courage.

The rewards are great, as well. Probably the most famous courageous man in history was Joshua, the son of Nun.

After forty years working as Moses’ assistant, he was called upon to succeed Moses. He was eighty years old, just as Moses was when he became leader of Israel. This is what God said to Joshua:

Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:6-9 ESV)

God’s Word will give me the power to be courageous. Meditating on it, doing what it says, this will give me courage and bring me “good success.”

But there was another Joshua who epitomizes courage. He wasn’t known as “Joshua” but rather “Jesus.”

Jesus showed great courage in given up his life to save all people.

“While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” It wasn't easy but he felt it was the the right thing to do. And the result was that those who believe in him will never die but have everlasting life.

This gives me the courage to meet every challenge, every obstacle, every situation head-on! Jesus took my sin away. He gave me his righteousness.

And he promised that he will be with me wherever I go!

That gives me great courage!

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