We had a guest pastor at our church today. Scott Harris from Brooklake Church in Federal Way, Washington (just outside of Seattle) spoke and gave an inspiring sermon on courage. He started by mentioning the book The Top Five Regrets of the Dying by Bronnie Ware. The book is based on Ms. Ware’s years of work with terminal patients. Through her time with them, she’d ask them about any regrets they had in their life. The most common regret she found was, “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”
Scott focused on that point and how so many of us live a life not true to ourselves, our dreams, or our convictions. He spoke on how the social norm is to be someone else in an effort to appease others. The message was simple: Lead Yourself Courageously. It’s time to stop living in fear and instead begin working our way through fear. He mentioned how, “the path to your greatest potential is straight through your greatest fear.”
Personally, Scott’s message struck a chord in my heart. It took me back to what I was feeling at the Ransomed Heart retreat last summer, and how I knew I needed to overcome my fears if I wanted to be great. It was a feeling I all to easily moved away from, settling back into what is comfortable and easy. I haven’t been living a life true to myself (not entirely at least), and I haven’t been moving in a direction driven by passion or purpose. I have a list of writing projects I want to complete, and that list hasn’t had anything crossed off it in a couple of years now. I have an ambition to step away from my 9-5 norm and into something significantly more rewarding, yet all I’ve done is proverbially window shop instead of going into the store. And for me, it’s not so much a fear of failing, but rather the fear of not knowing how to get there.
Scott used the story of David and Goliath as an example of how in stepping into courage, and placing our faith in God, that which seems impossible can be accomplished. David was not afraid not only because he knew he was capable, but also because he had complete faith in God. “The Lord who rescued me from the claws of the lion and the bear will rescue me from this Philistine!” – 1 Samuel 17:37. It’s no surprise then the command, “Fear Not” is the most frequent command in all of scripture. This further supports the idea that fear is the one common denominator we all share.
I strive every day to move towards that level of faith David displayed in slaying Goliath. It’s not an overnight thing, however. You don’t just wake up one morning feeling like David, confident in your ability to overcome incredible odds. Having unwavering faith requires a relationship with God. It’s a process in which we grow toward him, every day letting a little more of our earthly ideals go, and surrendering more and more to His grace and holiness. It’s an experience that takes us through the hard times so that we can celebrate the good times. It’s a movement in which we fall and fail, only to be forgiven and redeemed. It’s something with which I oftentimes struggle, but only because I fail to be courageous while succumbing to silly fears.
Scott went on to elaborate the following:
- Courage is established in an environment of uncertainty and fear
- Leadership is establish through courage, not talent or calling
- Courage is calculated, not careless
I believe these points to be true. I also believe it can be summarized in this way: Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the doing despite of it. As you look at the year ahead, what’s the one fear you’re going to walk into head on? What is the dream inside your heart into which you’re going to lean? How will you display your courage and be brave?