Good morning dear reader & welcome to my world for another week. Over the many years my single most consistent thought reverts to one of courage. Being a coward comes quite naturally to me. I do not like to fight. I do not like rejection. I am definitely not a fan of pain. All of these are essential qualities of a coward.
Seriously, as I look in the rear-view mirror at just about forty five years of working, one of my regrets has to do with this issue called courage. My fear of people not liking me & my fear of criticism often kept me from making courageous leadership decisions. I could always justify my position in the name of “not going too fast” or “bringing people along” or “keeping unity,” but the truth is, sometimes it was lack of courage. My courage often seemed to stumble over my propensity for people pleasing.
Courage is not an issue of wiring, but of willingness. I have always found comfort & hope in the definition from Ambrose Redmoon: “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear”’.
In recent years my willingness to be courageous in spite of my fears has been tested. And, while I am not the poster child for spiritual courage, in some difficult situations I am pleased to report I have not run. I have had the hard conversations. My people pleasing did not win the day.
Looking back I realize there is a correlation between my deeper intimacy with my soul (as discussed last week) & my desire & ability to stand courageously The more I reflect internally, the less I need to find life in opinions of others.
As an example, Martin Luther King Jr. began to receive threatening phone calls & letters, fear began to paralyze him. He had a defining moment one night: “It seemed as though I heard an inner voice, saying “Stand up for righteousness, stand up for truth. God will be at your side forever. Almost at once my fears began to pass from me. . . . The outer situation remained the same, but God had given me inner calm”.
Three nights later, his home was bombed. His experience had given him new strength & trust. He knew he was able to provide the interior resources to face the storms of life.
Let his words soak in. As courage has begun to take root, I too am learning some key principles helping me in my quest to be courageous.
This does not mean everything will go smoothly just because I do what is right & live with courage. However, I am reminded of an encouraging quote: “Be on guard. Stand true to what you believe. Be courageous. Be strong. 2
- What is the right thing to do? When faced with a situation where I am tempted to do what is politically expedient, I am forcing myself to wrestle with this question. And most of the time I have a clear sense about what is right. Following through is not easy & there have been plenty of times I have taken the easy way out.
- Separate decision making from problem solving. When confronted with a difficult decision, we can let the potential fallout (problems) hijack us. I am by wiring more a process thinker, & so I can quickly see potential problems, hurdles & barriers. But, by separating decision making from problem solving, I do not let the problems cloud my ability to make the best decision. Once the best & correct decision has been made, then we can dig in & start to problem solve.
- When I have done what I believed to be right & acted with courage, ones faith has been answered. It has not been easy, but I am learning to really, deep down, trust these decisions. In some ways, courage is a matter of trust. Do I trust if I do what is right, & have the confidence to follow my values, typically then, all is well? 1
Thank you for taking the time to be with me once again. I hope my journey may encourage you also. This is Kenn Butler in Paradise, Nelson, with my best wishes for the weekend ahead. I look forward to being with you all again next week.
2 (1 Corinthians 16:13 NLT)