I recently participated in a goal setting challenge to make 2020 the best year ever in your business. I've been hearing a lot about dreaming big, setting challenging goals, and creating motivational vision boards recently. I love all these things, but too many times in my life, they don't go beyond this stage. So I started asking why.
Why do I set these goals and make these plans but don't act on them? Have you been there? When I sit down and write our goals and create that vision board, it is so exciting! I make the action plan, but soon as I hit a snag, or something doesn't go as planned, my enthusiasm wanes. I'm not so confident in seeing the rest of my goals or vision manifesting. As I prayed about this, I felt God saying one of the reasons why was a lack of courage.
Throughout the bible, we are told to be strong and have courage. Here are just a few.
- Joshua 1:7 Above all, be strong and very courageous.
- Psalms 27:14 Wait patiently for the LORD; be strong and courageous. Wait patiently for the LORD.
- Psalms 31:24 Be strong and courageous, all you who hope in the LORD.
- Daniel 10:19 And he said, “O man greatly loved, fear not, peace be with you; be strong and of good courage
- Ephesians 6:10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.
- Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
I posted about strength in earlier (see You're Stronger Than You Think), so let's focus on what courage is.
Strong's Lexicon defines courage as to be stout, strong, bold and alert.
Merriam-Webster says courage is mental or moral strength to venture, persevere and withstand danger, fear or difficulty. It encompasses courage, mettle, spirit, resolution, and tenacity.
- Courage implies firmness of mind and will in the face of danger or extreme difficulty: the courage to support unpopular causes.
- Mettle suggests an ingrained capacity for meeting strain or difficulty with fortitude and resilience: a challenge that will test your mettle.
- Spirit also suggests a quality of temperament enabling one to hold one's own or keep up one's morale when opposed or threatened: her spirit was unbroken by failure.
- Resolution stresses firm determination to achieve one's ends: the resolution of pioneer women.
- Tenacity adds to resolution implications of stubborn persistence and unwillingness to admit defeat: held to their beliefs with great tenacity.
Joshua 1:9 says "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed." We are commanded to be strong and of good courage. It is our responsibility, God can't do it for us. I won't kid you, living a courageous life is not easy. It takes determination and a whole lot of help from the Holy Spirit. But if we don't exercise courage, we can become discouraged. Discouragement can lead to a whole lot of other problems. That was what was happening to me. I had allowed myself to become discouraged by past experiences and failures. This discouragement was manifesting as a lack of motivation and procrastination that was sabotaging my dreams and goals.
When we feel broken or afraid, we must choose to be strong and encourage ourselves in the Lord. I read somewhere that courage is like a muscle, it can be strengthened and developed through consistent training. It develops with every small decision we make. When worry or fears shows its face, practice courage. When God asks you to do something you aren't familiar with, practice courage.
We find examples of great courage throughout the bible. In these stories, we can find keys on how to obey God's command to be courageous.
- Courage comes from knowing God is with you and he has gone before you to prepare the way. Joshua was charged with leading God's people into the Promised Land. God had told them He would not drive out all of the enemies of the land because it would become desolate and the wild animals would multiply and threaten them. But He would drive them out little by little ahead of them until the Israelites could possess the land themselves. Joshua 1:9: "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”.
- Courage is feeling fear yet choosing to act. I believe Gideon is a good example of this. When the Lord appeared to him He was hiding in a winepress. He pulled down the idols at his father's house as night because he was afraid of getting caught. Over and over he asked God for confirmation. He didn't have personal experience of God's intervention, just stories.
- Courage is the determination to follow your heart. Let's look at Rahab. She followed her heart is helping the spies hide and escape. She had only heard about the God of Israel, but she knew in her heart what the right thing to do was.
- Courage is taking on new challenges, expanding your horizons and letting go of what is familiar.I see Ruth displaying this kind of courage. She left everything she knew to go with Naomi. She tackled a new job, new home, new country, a new religion, nothing was familiar to her.
- Courage is standing up for what you believe and not compromising. When David heard what the Philistines were saying, he stood up for what he believed and took on Goliath. Daniel wouldn't compromise his prayer time, even though it meant facing the lions.
- Courage is the ability to persevere in the face of adversity.Paul exemplifies this type of courage over and over as did most of the first New Testament believers.
I'm sure as you read this list, you will have others that come to mind. They all had big challenges that needed big courage to face. But not all courage is "big" courage. It may be facing your fear of spiders in the basement, trying new food, or saying hello to a stranger. These small acts of courage build that courage muscle. It's in these small courage situations we learn we can trust the Holy Spirit to be with us when we need big courage. Remember David slew the lion and bear before he had to face Goliath.
So as you set your goals for 2020 and create your vision boards, I challenge you to add some things that will exercise your courage muscle. I know God is challenging me to do that. In fact, courage maybe my 2020 word for the year. 2020 can be the best year ever if we determine to face it with courage. Don't be afraid to set those goals a little higher or dream a little bigger. God has gone before you to prepare the way, and He will walk with you every step. He has a delightful life planned for each of us, wonderful adventures He wants to take with us if only we have the courage to step into them.
How about you? What small (or big) acts of courage situations are you being placed in? How did the Holy Spirit help you through? Send a reply and let us celebrate your acts of courage with you!