We love stories of bravery. Whether it’s a risky, bet-the-farm business move, the inspiring pursuit of a noble dream or an adventurous, death defying stunt, bravery stirs the soul.
We just don’t like to be the brave ones.
As inspiring as bold moves can be, our natural tendency is to gravitate toward comfort. We like to watch others be brave (from the comfort of our couch). We love drive thru’s, remote controls, garage door openers and Keurig Coffee makers. They make life convenient and comfortable. The problem is, comfort should never be the goal of life. While we love the short-term feeling of comfort, we hate the long-term cost of comfort. The short-term feeling is relief, but the long-term cost is regret.
That’s why the greatest regrets people experience are not regrets of action, but regrets of inaction. It’s not the regret for what we did, it’s the regret for what we didn’t do that haunts us. So what’s the cure? Where do we begin?
The Bible records a brave move in the Old Testament book of Joshua. God called Joshua to lead the Israelites across the Jordan River into the land that God had promised to give them. .
“After the death of Moses the Lord’s servant, the Lord spoke to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ assistant. He said, ‘Moses my servant is dead. Therefore, the time has come for you to lead these people, the Israelites, across the Jordan River into the land I am giving them. I promise you what I promised Moses: ‘Wherever you set foot, you will be on land I have given you— from the Negev wilderness in the south to the Lebanon mountains in the north, from the Euphrates River in the east to the Mediterranean Sea in the west, including all the land of the Hittites.’ No one will be able to stand against you as long as you live. For I will be with you as I was with Moses. I will not fail you or abandon you. Be strong and courageous, for you are the one who will lead these people to possess all the land I swore to their ancestors I would give them.’” (Joshua 1:1-6, NLT)
Buried in the opening pages of Joshua chapter one, we find the starting place for bravery. Bravery doesn’t begin with your personality or abilities. It’s not tied to the size of your bank account or some innate spirit of adventure. Here’s the truth:
The first step to becoming brave is to have something to be brave about.
I know what you’re thinking: “Thanks Captain Obvious!” But before you dismiss what appears painfully clear, let’s be brutally honest: All of us want the characteristic of bravery but not the conditions that require bravery. We want to be brave from the comfort of our living room. I would suggest, that’s not possible. Comfort and courage don’t coexist. Bravery comes wrapped in uncertainty with a bow of fear on top. If you’re not scared, there’s no need for courage. Bravery demands that you have something to be brave about.
When God called Joshua to lead the Israelites across the Jordan, he specifically told him, “Be strong and courageous.” Why? Because the situation demanded it. The same is true for you. God is challenging you to face your leadership fears and to recognize that God is waiting for you in your fears.
In his book Just Courage, Gary Haugen compares our resistance to courage to the cul-de-sac we find in many neighborhoods. The word “cul-de-sac” is actually a French word that means “bottom of the sack.” In a neighborhood context, it refers to a dead-end street. The reason people move into a cul-de-sac is because it has a perception of safety. After all, cars don’t come barreling down cul-de-sacs at high speeds.
But there’s a hidden danger in cul-de-sacs. They actually have higher incidents of accidents with small children—not from forward moving traffic, but from being backed over by a car. What’s perceived as safety actually creates a false sense of security.
In life, we have a similar tendency. We live in a “cul-de-sac of comfort” where we feel safe from the uncertainties of life. The problem is, while we may not be run over by uncertainties, we’re backed over by mediocrity and complacency. The cul-de-sac of comfort turns our attention away from the uncertainty of opportunity and onto the safety of routine.
God has not called us to a life of safety in the cul-de-sac. He has called us to bravely look over the fence at the place where His Spirit is doing His greatest work. Will you join him? The first step to becoming brave is to have something to be brave about. Is there something in your life that demands bravery, or has comfort and routine overshadowed your faith?