The second piece of advice the dying King David gave to his son Solomon was, “be courageous.” David showed courage throughout his life as he fought for and won a kingdom. Ralph DePalma showed courage as he pushed his racecar for over a mile to the finish line.
Many of us are risk-averse. We go out of our way to protect ourselves against any and all perceived threats.
Now, I’m all for safety and I realize that accidents happen, but sometimes I think that we may go overboard in our quest to defeat any risk before it presents itself. I am also speaking as a parent who has never had a child badly injured. Perhaps if Matt or Chris or Dominique had received a serious injury, I would feel differently. But for goodness sakes. We dress our kids up in helmets, shin guards, knee pads, gloves, and goggles to go out riding their bikes. Perhaps we are giving them a false sense of security. Perhaps we are communicating to them that you can get through life without being hurt.
The problem is that, when we become so afraid of risk, we also strip ourselves of any chance of enjoyment. Of course there is a difference between courage and foolishness, but we can’t let fear dominate our lives.
One of the things I have been saying to folks around here is that the church has to develop and nurture an organizational climate in which we are not afraid to make mistakes. We need to give each other permission to make mistakes. Only by boldness and courage can we move into the future with any hope of reaching new populations for Jesus Christ.
Making mistakes means that we are not being content with sitting still. The only way to prevent mistakes is not to do anything. The key, it seems to me, is to trust God and be courageous enough to step out in faith. If we make mistakes…in programming, in personnel, in strategy, or in any number of other areas – we will learn from them and not make them again. But people who trust God cannot be afraid to step out and take a risk or two or three for the Kingdom.
I’ve been spending quite a lot of time lately with Dr. Mark Fenstermacher. You will remember Mark, I’m sure as the guest leader for our stewardship campaign a couple of years ago. He and I have been talking about this church; our present and our future. He has asked how this church can be encouraged to take on the high-risk, Biblically-based, and life-giving role of being a leader in the faith community. He wants to know if we are willing to endure the criticism and chaos that always results when leaders attempt to lead with courage, vision, and boldness.
Remember that King David said, “Be courageous.” He didn’t say, “Don’t be afraid.” There is a difference. Mark Twain was the one who said, “Courage is not the absence of fear. It is acting in spite of it.”
David didn’t say, “Act only when the way is clear before you.” He said, “Be courageous.” I don’t know who said this, but I read this quote just the other day. “Courage can’t see around corners, but goes around them anyway.” Courage is acting in the knowledge that God has the power and control of any situation, even failure. If failure comes, it is courage which learns and goes forward.