So what do you think of when you think of courage? There can be many different meanings. Courage can mean different things to different people. Courage can manifest itself in so many ways. One person could see an act as courageous. The same act could be seen by another person as stupidity.
Here is how Wikipedia defines courage:
Following your conscience instead of “following the crowd.”
Do you remember when you were in Jr. High and High School. Following the crowd seemed so important back then. How dare any of us do something that might make us stand out from the crowd and cause us to be considered not “cool” anymore.
The reality is that there is some pretty wicked stuff going on in our society today. A lot of the stuff that society would have us do is not moral things at all. Sometimes there are situations that we find ourselves in that if we do what is morally right, we risk being alienated and treated like an outcast.
That little voice that you hear inside your head is your conscience. You should listen to it. Most of the time we know what we should or should not do, but it takes courage to do the right thing when those around you choose not to. Do you want to blend in with the rest of the crowd you roll with or would you rather be remembered for being courageous by doing the right thing?
Taking action again hurtful or disrespectful behaviors.
You all remember the school bully. Heck, you may have even been him. He thought he was so cool because he picked on smaller, weaker individuals. Not cool. How many of us had the courage to stand up to that bully back then? Isn’t because we thought that other people might not like us for doing that? Seems pretty silly when you think about that now doesn’t it?
Yet, are there not bullys all around us in life? They may not be physically bigger than us and they may not come up to us and put us in a headlock or a sleeper hold, but aren’t they still there? The friends who want you to drive them home even though you are over the legal drinking limit. The co-worker who is having a bad day and taking it out on someone else in the work place. The waitress who is just getting by and is getting berated by an angry customer because the chef did not prepare the food the way they wanted them to. They are all around us.
Next time you witness something of this nature, do you have the courage to step in and stand up for that person? Are you willing to go from just standing there thinking how awful that is to actually taking action and walking up to the situation and defend the person being bullied?
It is easy to think we would do the right thing, but would we actually do it? So the next time you see something like this, will you just stand back and watch the fireworks or will you have the courage to take action and go stand up for the person?
Sacrificing personal gain for the benefit of others.
When I think of selfless people, I think of mothers. It seems so natural for them to put the needs of their children ahead of their own. I must admit that this a rather new concept to me since I have been very selfish for over 90% of my life and I do not yet have the privilege of being a father.
Actually, one of the greatest examples of this we have is Jesus. He had at his fingertips the ultimate power in the universe. He could destroy people with the touch of his hand. Instead he choose peace. He chose to heal people instead of strike them down or cause harm to anyone. He did not alienate anyone. He could have used this ultimate power for his own benefit. He could have achieved any personal gain he could have ever wanted if he choose to. He chose not to. Then he performed the ultimate sacrifice. He gave his life for me and you and all man kind so that our sins could be forgiven and we could be able to go to heaven. Wow! At any moment he could have wiped the people harming him out of existence, but he did not. He let them beat him until he could no longer stand. He let them mock him. He let them spit on him. He let them pound a crown made of thorns into his scalp. He let them pound nails into him piercing his body. They beat him and treated him as bad as any human has ever been treated and just before he died, Jesus asked God to forgive the men because they did not realize what they were doing. That just absolutely blows my mind. How can you not think of this as the ultimate in being courageous?
So it is so easy to look out for your own best interests first, especially in today’s society. Who better than to take care of myself than me? I am willing to help you, but only if I receive some kind of benefit from it. That seems to be the popular mantra these days. I know, that was me for the first 31+ years of my life. I would help people, but only if I received some benefit from it. It honestly makes me sick when I think back on that now.
It takes courage to put your own needs and agenda aside and choose to help someone just because they need help, doing what you can to help them benefit. Being selfless. So the next time someone needs help, will you put aside your best interests and be willing to go help them?
Taking complete responsibility for your actions…and your mistakes.
It is so easy to try to blame the actions we choose to take on others or the circumstances in our environment. It is because I don’t have any money. It is because of the family I have. It is because of the friends I have. It is my bosses fault. I got in the car accident because you are an idiot. The reality is that almost always, it is our own fault. We are willing to look to everyone else, but the person we really should be looking at, we never do. Why is that? Because it is hard. It is embarrassing. We put ourselves up on a pedestal and we don’t want to knock ourselves off that pedestal.
It takes a great amount of courage to look within yourself and see yourself for what you truly are. I messed up. I should have done this. Humans sin. Since Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit in Eden, we have been condemned to a life of sinning. It is in our DNA. Even when we try not to we still do. This is an imperfect world and we make mistakes. The question is, when we do make mistakes, what are we going to do about it? Are we going to take the easy road and blame it on someone else or something in you environment, or are you going to take a hard look at yourself, admit to yourself what you did was wrong and then learn from it and try not to make that mistake again? You don’t need me to tell you which one will benefit you the most. Have the courage to choose the more difficult choice. I am reminded of Robert Frost’s famous poem and choosing to take the road less traveled because it will make all the difference.
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference
Following the rules – and insisting that others do the same.
Admit it, some rules are dumb. Some don’t seem to fit the circumstances very well. That may be true in certain instances, but try to imagine what our lives would be like if we did not have any rules at all. It would be total chaos. People would do whatever they wanted to whenever they wanted to. It would be a very dangerous world to live in.
The perfect example is speed limits. Almost everyone goes over the speed limits at times. I do all the time. If there were no speed limits though, can you imagine how dangerous it would be to drive. People would be driving over 100 mph and a lot more people would get killed.
So we can agree that it is good to have laws and rules and we should try to follow them. They bring order to our lives and they protect all of us. What about the higher laws? The 10 commandments, The Great Commission? That is of even higher significance. There will come a day when each of us has to take an accounting of our lives. We are ultimately responsible for all our actions by a God who can see what we do at every second of our existence.
So bottom line is that we need rules and that we should follow them. It is so tempting to bend the rules when it seems to be of benefit to us or others. It takes courage to try to follow the rules to the best of your ability at all times. You will no doubt get pressure from friends and even family to bend them, but choose to be a person of integrity instead. Have the courage to say “no” when you know you should not be doing it.
Challenging the status quo in search of better ways.
Our society today is full of complacent followers. There seems to be less and less leaders all the time. We live in a society today that loves being comfortable. We don’t want to do things that take us out of our comfort zones. We like it in our little bubbles. It is safe there.
We live in a society where you tend to do just what you need to do at your job to not get fired or stand out in any way. Most people do not push themselves at all to excel in the workplace. It is living a life of stagnation and then we wonder why it seems that our lives have no meaning. We do not push ourselves to find something that we truly believe in. The key to being successful is to find out what we are passionate about. Find out what drives us. When we figure that out, we need to have the courage to make ourselves uncomfortable for a season of our lives. To step outside of our comfort zone and do the things it takes to excel in this area. To go way beyond the status quo and choose to be great in this area. If this is something you are passionate about, you won’t see it as work.
Facing setbacks and disappointments head-on – without losing your drive and spirit or adopting a victim mentality.
Lets face it, no matter how hard we work at something, no matter how hard we try to do the right thing at all times, we will have setbacks and disappointments that come our way. It is really easy to get discouraged when this happens and want to quit. It is so easy to feel sorry for ourselves and lose focus on our goals and what we are trying to do. It is easy to be energized and focused when things are going really well. It takes a lot of courage to pick yourself up when things are going bad and choose to not quit. Choose to keep you focus on where you are going and to continue to do the things that have gotten you to this point. If it was easy everyone would do it. It is the decisions that people make during the tough times that separate themselves from the rest of the pack.