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Courage Or Cowardice?*

Greg Morris, Director, Greg Morris Ministries
Thomas F. Fischer, M.Div., M.S.A.

Number 229

Long ago you realized that it was not possible to please everyone all the time or to make everyone happy. Whatever decision you make, someone is either going to be pleased or disappointed with your determination. Your decision-making is going to be applauded by some, while others are going to second-guess you.
Leaders Make Decisions
But in the role of leaders we recognize we must make decisions. Colleagues, subordinates and others around you insist you act decisively. People expect leaders to exhibit courage and calmness in the face of crisis. This requires decisive involvement.
Decision-making simply goes with the territory of leadership. It's not a matter of making a palatable decision, but making a right decision. Decisions need to be made despite the risks or opposition.
Decisions Are Difficult
It is often difficult to make a decision that says "Yes" to one thing or person while saying "No" to something or someone else. And because of this you only need to be on the trail of leadership a short time before you realize that moral courage is a needed commodity.
Courage is not the absence of fear and doubt but following God's call in the midst of fear and doubt. The great "theologian" John Wayne defined courage as "being scared to death but saddling up anyway." It's being able to overcome cowardice and resistance to proactivity.
Often it would be easier to run and hide, but you know that option is not in a leader's playbook. Courage in the face of difficulty translates into renewed and deepened commitment by the followers.
Components Of Courage
1. Convictions - These provide the framework for your decisions. What are your real values as opposed to those passing interests or mere concerns?  Without deep convictions courage is impossible.
2. Choices - Decisions aren't to be made simply on the basis of favorable or unfavorable circumstances, but on the basis of wise, well-thought-out options.
3. Competence - When spiritual and intellectual preparedness intersects with opportunity, only then can God use you greatly.
4. Character - Courage is simply character on display. Everything you are and do as a leader is derived from your character. In Romans 5 Paul wrote,
"We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope." Romans 5:3-4 (NIV)

There is no Christian character without Christian suffering. Christian suffering is what shapes, builds, and fine-tunes character.

Repeated suffering brings opportunities of strengthened character. The confident, Christian leader does not shy away from the suffering nor does the leader embark on mindless masochistic missions.  The Christian leader understands that godly leadership and courageous character are a function of suffering and perseverance.

5. Commitment - Commitment is a direct consequence of a sequential, cyclical process described in Romans 5. Unshakable hope in God's power is what maintains unshakable commitment.
"And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us." Romans 5:3-5 (NIV)
Focused on Christ's victory over suffering, the Christian leader has greater hope than the world can give. As leaders suffer, they rejoice, persevere, and hope in spite of further suffering. This hope is a result of God's gracious working by which He has poured out His love in us.
6. Confidence - No matter what the suffering, the Christian leader maintains a perspective of hope rooted in the Gospel. This hope drives the leader's commitment to trust the omnipotence of God to overcome all. God's Word is the Gospel is the omnipotent "power of God" to overcome even the greatest evil and the most insurmountable obstacles.
7. Christ-Centeredness - Leaders who lead based on their own energies, talents, intelligence, charisma and plans are doomed to failure. Though the world sees amazing results, without the recognition of the centrality of Christ and His power, the leader builds in vain. St. Paul's leadership was confident and Christ-centered. "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13). Godly Christian leaders know, understand and move forward with this unshakable Christ-centered confidence.
8. Celebrates Grace - Everything that happens in leadership is of God. No matter how effective and talented a leader might be, without God the leader could do nothing. Everything that leaders realize and achieve, therefore, is just another action of God's grace.  However great the success, it is always an undeserved and unmerited gift. Christ is the One who builds His Church. Left to ourselves, the church would crumble in a moment. This knowledge keeps leaders walking humbly and in awe of God's working of grace in them..
Need Courage?
The narrative of Esther is a profile in biblical courage. Esther demonstrated a courageous faith borne out of conviction, not convenience. She knew that even when everything was going against her that God was in control. Thus she courageously moved forward with a commitment and conviction in God's will working through her.
Hard decisions always need to be made. God has called you to make those which accompany your calling. Make these decisions courageously. Not all the decisions you make will be popular with everyone. There is a price to pay with every decision. That price often involves some sort of suffering and sacrifice for you and others. A leader unwilling to pay the price however, is neither a leader nor a follower. He's a cowardly, faithless deserter.
Act with courage based on an unshakable conviction of God's gracious power and leading. Move boldly in the hope and vision which God has given and discover real character and real Christian leadership!

Copyright Greg Morris and Ministry Health 1998--All Rights Reserved

* Freely adapted from an original article "Courage or Convenience" by Greg Morris

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This page was revised on: Tuesday, October 05, 2004 11:03:55 PM