Join author Greg Stoughton in the latest "Ignite the Journey" blog post series. Get ready to reflect on your own growth journey and gain insight on how to navigate obstacles and seize opportunities.
Be Brave: Look Within
My online dictionary describes bravery as courageous behavior or character. When I think of bravery, my thoughts race to heroes and heroines who have tackled complex challenges.
Nelson Mandella and the battle against Apartheid in South Africa. Elizabeth, who at an early age, became queen of England. Then there was David in the Bible who battled Goliath (See 1 Samuel 17). And Queen Esther who took a stand for the Jewish people as one called “for such a time as this…” (See Esther 8)
Bravery is often depicted in the movies. WONDER WOMAN, a superhero who defeats evil villains. Or Sir William Wallace in BRAVEHEART, who led Scotland’s finest toward freedom from oppression. Their actions can certainly be regarded as courageous.
I tend to view bravery as more than the examples shared. True courage, or bravery, is perhaps never more exemplified than when we confront the depths of our soul and choose to embark on a path of personal, deeper, lifelong growth.
At a conference I recently attended, I was reminded of the power of looking inside myself. To look within for a moment, for an hour, a day, or even a longer-length season of our lives, is one of the bravest things that any of us can do.
A highly profitable and successful CEO spoke at the gathering. The results his corporate leadership and hard work had produced–and the pride he felt–were incongruent with what he’d been hearing from his wife, children, colleagues and friends. In time, he realized that there were character issues–cracks in the foundation of his life. There were heart problems that he needed to address.
Bravely, courageously, boldly, he humbled himself to step away from his leadership for a time. Wisely, he recognized his need to hit “pause” and to let God’s Holy Spirit “search and to know his heart” (Psalm 139:23).
Allow me to tell you a little about myself. I was born with congenital deformities of my hands and feet. For 62 years now, physically different, I imagine some people view me as a person who is brave simply because of what I’ve done based on what they can see. Physically different–some might regard me as “handicapped” even.
Yet in junior high, I creatively and strategically scaled a wall, and seven times climbed a rope. I successfully made 56 free throws in a row, and before turning 18 years old, I broke par on a golf course.
By walking closely with God, He has helped me to navigate many new challenges. Those included enduring vocational tests, persevering through family issues, and making significant contributions with senior-leadership of a 15,000-person global ministry.
In truth, nothing has proven insurmountable. To me, that’s what people, and especially those who God calls to lead, should be expected to do. There have been challenges in all that I’ve done. However, it is in those times of earnest, if not prolonged, personal introspection that I feel as if I’ve acted most bravely.
God led my heart to Jesus at age 22. With Christ within, I came to experience forgiveness and grace, and to find an identity in something more secure than what substances, career advancement, wealth or relationships could provide.
In my thirties and forties, periods of counseling (going internally deep) strengthened my life, including marriage and parenting. In my forties, I also paused for a year of personality and career inventories. It was through life-coaching that I was guided towards the opportunity to address some globally complex organizational challenges.
And then came the invitation to write on “bravery.” Dawgone. I’d come to think: I’ve arrived. I’m done with this need to go introspectively deep. Nope! Strength lies in the lifelong pursuit of personal growth–allowing God's light to shine on my character and choices. The courage to confront my flaws, acknowledge my shortcomings, and to seek continuous improvement is a profound act of bravery that transforms myself and those I lead.
I've found peace and guidance in a biblical passage that encourages me to bravely look to God and allow Him to examine me from within: Psalm 27:14 reads, “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”
For Further Thought
Consider a challenge or fear you've been avoiding. Take a moment for introspection, acknowledging the discomfort it brings. Write this challenge or fear in a journal or on a note card. Pray over it. Revisit it for a period of time in your prayer time. Embrace the courage to face it head-on, looking to God and trusting that He can supply you greater strength and character within.
Be brave: One of the most courageous things you can do is to “stop.” In humility, come to God in a posture of vulnerability that allows Him to speak into your heart and every aspect of your life.
Heavenly Father, grant me the courage to face my fears and challenges with humility and trust in Your divine plan. Help me to recognize that true bravery lies not just in external acts but in the quiet moments of introspection with You. Shine Your light on my heart, revealing the areas that need transformation, and guide me on a path of continuous growth. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.
About the Author: Greg Stoughton is a leader, strategic thinker, mentor and speaker with a passion to help others embrace their full potential as they discover God’s purpose and plan for their lives. He, along with his wife Linda serve with Cru, formerly Campus Crusade for Christ. The father of two sons, Greg now resides in Cincinnati where he is involved in outreach, discipleship. coaching and connecting others to collaboratively advance God's Kingdom.email@example.com
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