Where Do You Need More Courage?

For the last two weeks I’ve written about courage: Jesus-like courage to share in the dream of the Kingdom coming on earth as it is in heaven and skills that build courage.  Perhaps by now you are convinced of both the supernatural dimension of courage as a gift from the Holy Spirit and the concepts and skills tied to it.  I hope so.   And I also hope that perhaps you are ready to seek more courage.  This blog will help you consider just what kind of courage your life/ministry needs more of right now and so can help you know for what to pray!

Here are three big kinds of courage we may find ourselves needing:  try courage, trust courage and truth courage.  What follows is a little more about each, with my deepest hope that you find in these descriptions some clarity about the kind of courage you need, right now!  Then you can pray for it, build the specific skills that give you confidence in this area, and seek small opportunities to practice it.

Try courage:  it’s just what it seems.  This is the courage to try something for the first time, or the first time in a long time.  This can be as simple as a new food or as complicated as a new approach to faith formation.  This can be as critical as saving your health or as adventurous as trying your hand at a potter’s wheel.  When I first moved here, a big “try” courage for me was to take myself, by myself, and hike a part of the C&O Canal.  Would I be safe?  Get lost?  Meet threatening people or animals?  It was a small try, but the amount of courage it took didn’t feel small!  So on a chilly late Spring day I laced up my shoes, grabbed my keys and took myself the 8 miles to the local entrance to the canal.  I walked about 4 miles in peace and tranquility, spoke friendly words to fellow walkers, joggers and bikers, scratched a couple of dog heads and came home…triumphant.  Try courage.  Is this what you need right now?

Trust courage.  This one can be very tough for perfectionists, control junkies, those who work for perfectionists or chronic critics, and those pressed for time.  Trust courage is the courage to hand over parts of a project, program, or process to others, trusting that they will do what needs to be done and do it well enough.  We would not be here as Christians today if Jesus had not practiced this with the first apostles and those apostles with others across the region.  And yet, despite Jesus’ model, trust courage can be very difficult.  It often takes longer when you delegate.  It can be messier. It almost always turns out at least some different than the plan or imagination.  It can go sideways, skid off the rails, create a dust-up of some sort.  And it takes more time.  Finally, this kind of courage leaves you open to both criticism and blame, and asks you to give acclaim to others when things go well.  Yep…trust courage is a tough one.  And yet it is the way to form disciples.  It is Jesus’ way.  Need this one right now?

Truth courage.  This is akin to what it takes to speak up or speak out.  In the social justice world, they call it  “speaking truth to power.”  For so many who are part of staffs, teams, committees, councils or commissions, this is the courage to say what you see or feel, from where you stand,  rather than to remain silent.  The evidence of a shortage of truth courage is the meeting after the meeting, where one or more people say what should have been said during the meeting because now they feel safer.  There is less likely for there to be push-back, the need to explain further, or fiery opposition in the meeting, after the meeting, so that is where they share their “ truth.”  And all too often, their perspectives are full of knowledge, wisdom and understanding, Spirit gifts that could have made all the difference in the earlier discussion.  Does this happen with you, to you or around you?  Do you need truth courage with a specific person, group of people or circumstance?  What kind of climate is necessary for truth courage to flourish?  How can you begin to create that space of psychological (I hope not physical but maybe this, too) safety so that truth courage is welcomed?

Try, trust, truth…three kinds of courage.  Perhaps you can identify which you are most in need of right now and begin to ask for the Spirit’s gift of courage.  Then you can begin to develop the skills you need to feel confident in exercising it.  You will lead more effectively and everything improves when leaders improve! 

“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you.  He will never leave you nor forsake you.  Do not be afraid.  Do not be discouraged.”  Deuteronomy 31:8 


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As I write this, it’s just under a month until the first phase of the Church’s Synod on the process of synodality is to begin.