Courage is a word typically reserved for extraordinary circumstances — the soldier in battlefield, the first responder at the scene of a wreck, the nurse in the emergency room — where split-second decisions can save a life. Most of us don’t have to employ that kind of courage, but we all face fearful situations.
The fears we face:
- defending an unpopular course of action in a meeting
- addressing performance issues with a direct report
- confronting negativity in the break room
- leaving work early (or on time) to be with your family
- asking forgiveness from your spouse
- challenging the anger or frustration of a spouse
- disciplining your child’s behavior
Every fear we face tempts us to run which inflates but does not remove fear. Every fear we face tempts us to respond in like kind — with fear.
Fighting fear out of fear doesn’t work.
Our typical strategy is to fight fear with fear. We address our direct report so our supervisor doesn’t do the same with us. We head home risking the disappointment of our boss so we don’t experience our spouses’ disappointment. Fighting fear out of fear may get us an immediate result, but it doesn’t build lasting courage.
To become courageous, we need to fight fear with God. In a letter to a young man wrestling with self-doubt, Paul writes, “God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self control” (2 Timothy 1:7). Here, Paul is talking about the Holy Spirit. Notice, he doesn’t appeal to Timothy’s natural abilities, nor does he threaten him with some form of judgment. He says, “Look, you’re not alone to face your fear! God is with you! God is for you! God is in you!