Gaining Courage for the Journey
In this and our next Wisdom Note, we are going to look at 12 trails of life where we can be infused with courage. Hiking these trails on your trek of life will help you become and remain much more courageous.
1. The Trail of Personal Responsibility
Courage gives you the strength to take personal responsibility for your actions. You can’t always control your circumstances, but you can always choose how you will respond to each situation, regardless of how difficult. No matter what challenges you face, you can have the courage and power to make the ultimate choice, which is either to let the world impact you or to go out and impact the world. Resist the impulse to blame your woes on others or situations of life, but instead, make the decision to own your life and be fully responsible.
2. The Trail of Living with Integrity
Courage gives you the strength to live with integrity at all times. Integrity is the only path in life upon which you will never get lost. Placing integrity at every step of the trail and with every decision you make requires a willingness to do what is right above what is convenient or politically expedient. At times, this means veering off the safe and comfortable trail onto one less traveled. By taking an alternate trail, the risk of failure or disapproval may run high. At all times, living with integrity calls you to forge your trail. At its core, integrity is about wholeness and alignment between your deepest values. It will control every decision you make and every action that you take. Integrity calls forth courage and greatness.
3. The Trail of Seeing New Worlds
Courage gives you the opportunity to see your world in a new perspective because you are unwilling to settle for how life is today. You usually will not see the trails of life or the world, as it is, but as you are. Too often we settle with answers to life’s questions because we do not have the courage to ask new questions. We contend with those who claim a monopoly on the truth. The fact is that none of us has a monopoly on the truth. We just have our own version of it.
While I feel that all truth ultimately was created and comes from God and can be found in His Word, I am not naïve enough to think that I have a corner on the truth market, and neither should you. We all should continue to study and to gain wisdom and truth. Have the courage to ask ourselves and others the difficult questions about life.
It does take courage to question our own assumptions and beliefs, which we have been living by up until now and opening your mind to alternative perspectives. Doing so opens up new possibilities for yourself and your life that you otherwise may never have seen. Ultimately being willing to challenge your stories unleashes you to have the courage to experience life in a whole new more exciting and more meaningful way.
4. The Trail of Bigger Dreams
You will never be able to have your dream job nor live your dream life unless you first find the courage to dream big enough to identify what it is. Dare to create a vision for your life that is bigger than the one you’ve had until now in your relationships, your career, and your life in general. Don’t let fear keep you from connecting with what it is that inspires you most. The greatest danger is not that your dreams are too lofty and you fail to reach them, but that they are too small and you do! It takes courage to grow up and turn out to be who you really are.
5. The Trail of Authenticity
In a world that pressures for conformity, it takes courage to be who you really are. You need to gain the courage to express yourself fully and authentically in every relationship and in every encounter. You need to have the courage to give up pretending to be more or less or different from who you truly are. When you fail to be authentic, you keep from others that which makes you most attractive. When you conform, all that you have to offer others is your conformity. There is nothing more valuable or attractive.
6. The Trail of Self-Expression
Have the courage and dare to speak up to give voice to your concerns, your feelings, and your thoughts and to engage in conversations that you’ve been hesitant to have before. When you have the proper courage, expressing yourself does not have to be done in an augmentative or aggressive manner. Have the courage to address an issue or fulfill a need without the worry that you may have an awkward conversation or a request declined. You need the courage to have discussions with others, even if they may not agree. Otherwise, there will be unfulfilled needs, which if left unresolved will allow resentments to fester. Have the courage to speak up in ways that protect the honor and dignity of others, provide a means of building trust, and deepen the quality of the relationships. It also enables others to know who you are, what you need, what you care about, and what you are capable of.
We will explore the remaining 6 trails of courage in our next Wisdom Note. In our previous Wisdom Note, we saw that Gideon could use a dose of courage. He tested God twice with the fleece, and both times God showed him that his courage needed to come from Him.
We see in today’s passage, though, that Gideon’s courage needed to be much stronger. Judges 8 indicates that there were approximately 135,000 Midianites and Amalekites that came to fight against Israel. This would far outnumber the 33,000 that Gideon was able to assemble. As we read from Judges 7:1-7, we see that God had a much different battle plan in mind.
“So Jerub-baal (that is, Gideon) and his army got up early and went as far as the spring of Harod. The armies of Midian were camped north of them in the valley near the hill of Moreh. The Lord said to Gideon, ‘You have too many warriors with you. If I let all of you fight the Midianites, the Israelites will boast to me that they saved themselves by their own strength.’ Therefore, tell the people, ‘Whoever is timid or afraid may leave this mountain and go home.’ So 22,000 of them went home, leaving only 10,000 who were willing to fight.” (And if you think that was bad. see what God had planned from there.)
“But the Lord told Gideon, ‘There are still too many! Bring them down to the spring, and I will test them to determine who will go with you and who will not.’ When Gideon took his warriors down to the water, the Lord told him, ‘Divide the men into two groups. In one group put all those who cup water in their hands and lap it up with their tongues like dogs. In the other group put all those who kneel down and drink with their mouths in the stream.’ Only 300 of the men drank from their hands. All the others got down on their knees and drank with their mouths in the stream. The Lord told Gideon, ‘With these 300 men I will rescue you and give you victory over the Midianites. Send all the others home.’ So Gideon collected the provisions and rams’ horns of the other warriors and sent them home. But he kept the 300 men with him.”