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6 Core Concepts of Servant Leadership – Courage

Dana Hlusko

“Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can’t practice any other virtue consistently.” Maya Angelou [1]

Are you courageous enough to have those hard conversations? Are you courageous enough to face your limitations…with others? Are you courageous enough to fail? Can you dare to lead?

Brene’ Brown, in her books Dare to Lead and Rising Strong, talks about the courage a leader must have, to “rumble.” She says,

“The goal of the rumble is to get honest about the stories we’re making up about our struggles, to revisit, challenge, and reality-check these narratives as we dig into topics such as boundaries, shame, blame, resentment, heartbreak, generosity, and forgiveness. Rumbling with these topics and moving from our first responses to a deeper understanding of our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors gives birth to key learnings about who we are and how we engage with others.” [2] (Italics mine)

Courageous leaders lead with principles — their True North — that guide them when pressure mounts. They don’t shirk bold actions because they fear failure. They don’t need external adulation, nor do they shrink from facing criticism. [3] Courageous leaders use the concepts we’ve presented before: vision, values, clarity, honesty and listening.

Christianity has always required courage from its practitioners/disciples. God did not spare the warnings to His followers. “Do not be afraid,” “Fear not,” “Be not afraid” or other iterations of those appear in the bible, both in the Hebrew Scriptures and New Testament, approximately 365 times, many times as a command, not a suggestion. [4] It seems the need to be courageous is an important part of being a disciple. We have Jesus and the prophets and saints as models to us for courage. Jesus did not shirk from the hard conversations with Pharisees, followers and disciples, and Kings. The prophets frequently spoke truth to power. The saints took on Popes and Kings. [5]

Where does courage come from? Business leaders would say that courage is neither an intellectual quality, nor can it be taught in the classroom. It can only be gained through multiple experiences involving personal risk-taking. Courage comes from the heart. [6] (Italics mine)

As believers in the Holy Spirit, we know that Courage is one of the gifts of the Spirit given to us at Baptism and sealed in Confirmation. We have courage. We just need to own it and practice courage by daring leadership, failing at times, and rising again.

Do you have the courage to “rumble” with your emotions, pride, others; putting yourself out there in vulnerability and allowing the Spirit to work through you? You can do it. You have the gift of Courage.

ConSpirita is working on a book on women’s leadership in the Catholic church that will contain an entire chapter on courage with skill building exercises to go with it.  Stay tuned.

“Courage allows the successful woman to fail- and learn powerful lessons from the failure- so that in the end, she didn’t fail at all.” Maya Angelou [7]


[1] http://www.searchquotes.com/Maya_Angelou/Courage/quotes/

[2] Brown, Brene’, Rising Strong, pp 77-78, Random House, 2015.

[3] Bill George author of Discover Your True North https://www.forbes.com/sites/hbsworkingknowledge/2017/04/24/courage-the-defining-characteristic-of-great-leaders/#62e2026011ca

[4] http://www.answers.com/Q/How_many_times_does_the_Bible_tell_us_to_Fear_Not?fbclid=IwAR36byIfPYCYXR6vxznda_LnPxdfUBPD4ZbPvyDQQp2ofw6OLGf-m99TZ_0

[5] The prophet Nathan confronted King David on his sin when he planned Uriah’s death so he could have Bathsheba. 2 Samuel 12: 7-12. St Stephen preached to the Sanhedrin where he was tried for blasphemy and stoned. Acts 6: 8- 7:60. St Catherine of Siena implored Pope Gregory XI to return the seat of the Church to Rome from Avignon and continued to encourage him, after he had second thoughts, to stay the course. https://www.catholic.com/magazine/online-edition/how-st-catherine-brought-the-pope-back-to-rome

[6] Bill George author of Discover Your True North https://www.forbes.com/sites/hbsworkingknowledge/2017/04/24/courage-the-defining-characteristic-of-great-leaders/#62e2026011ca

[7] http://www.searchquotes.com/Maya_Angelou/Courage/quotes/

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