How Do I Get Courage to Do What's Right (Not Easy)?

21 indispensable qualities of a leader christian character christian leadership courage high school leadership john maxwell leadership leadership character leadership qualities middle school leadership youth leadership Dec 28, 2023
Courage to Do What's Right (Not Easy): Why Faith Matters

What do you want to do or maybe need to do, but you don't have the courage to do it?

When I asked the students in my Well-Led Life Leadership Mastermind this question last week, we were talking about healthy risks, such as trying out for a new sport, auditioning for the school play, asking a date to Homecoming, public speaking, or standing up to a bully.

What's the most courageous thing you've done so far in your life? And if you had unlimited, immeasurable courage, what would you do with it?

I used to have this mug with this question printed on it: What would you attempt to do if you could not fail? In other words, if success was guaranteed, what would you want to do?

The value in asking and answering that big question is because it reveals that fear of failure really does hold us back from taking action and from moving forward in some of the things that we want to do.

Leadership Quality: Courage

In this video, we're talking about the Christian leadership quality of courage. We're making our way through this book by John Maxwell, and we're on chapter 6.

Understanding Fear and Its Impact

When we talk about courage, we must also talk about fear. So, I'm asking you what I asked my students in the mastermind: What fears hold you back from being more courageous and taking action on the things that you want to act on?

Is it the fear of failure that is holding you back? Maybe it's a fear of trusting people. Are you afraid of disappointing people? Maybe it's not fear of failure as much as it is the fear of criticism and judgment and rejection by other people.

I heard a quote the other day that I found challenging. I asked my mastermind students what they thought, and let me ask what you think. The quote says, "We don't fear failure. We fear what people might think of us when we fail." What people might think of us when they see us trying to do something that may not go so well. We fear being criticized, mocked, judged, laughed at, made fun of, and we let that stop us from trying to do the thing that we want to do...which brings me to the last fear that I want to ask you struggle with, and that is the fear of vulnerability.

Vulnerability means being emotionally exposed, which puts you at risk of getting hurt. Vulnerability includes sharing your honest thoughts, your honest opinions, your honest ideas. Do you fear expressing yourself honestly with other people?

The Need for Courage in Pursuing Your Personal Mission

Now if you're like the students that I work with in my mastermind, you're actively searching for your personal mission in life. You want to know what God is calling you to do with your strengths, gifts and talents. The reason courage is so important for you to possess as a mission-driven leader is because God might be calling you to do something that feels scary, that feels out of bounds, out of your reach, something that you feel inadequate to do.

Even if you don't know exactly what God is calling you to do with your life, the responsible thing to do is to prepare yourself, to build in yourself the capacity for courage, so that you can step toward fear and not away from fear when you know what you need to do with your life. I mean, you might have to go to college in another state, you might enter a profession that requires you to examine cadavers and cut open bodies. You might have to work with criminals. You might have to work with people who are very different from you. These are situations that might sound threatening and intimidating to you right now. But that's because you haven't yet developed the capacity to face those situations and take them on with courage.

There's a famous quote by Eleanor Roosevelt that says, "You must do the thing that you think you cannot do." I wanna say "Amen!", but the next question is, how? How do you do the thing that you think you cannot do?

Not gonna lie, this is where in my mastermind, we kinda WENT TO CHURCH. So excuse me while I exercise the virtue of courage by proclaiming why I think Christian faith really does matter in situations where you have to be strong and courageous. Because if you think about the wide range of situations that you could find yourself in that require courage, it ranges from trying out for the sports team or auditioning for a school play or asking a girl out, all the way to admitting that you sinned, saying sorry, asking for forgiveness, or giving forgiveness to a person who doesn't actually deserve to be forgiven. Where do you get the courage to do those kinds of courageous acts?

Self-Sourced vs. God-Sourced Courage

If you're looking for a definition of Christian courage, here it is. Courage is God-sourced strength that does what is right and necessary despite fear, difficulty, danger, and personal humiliation. Now this God-sourced strength is everything in this definition of courage because if it's not a God-sourced strength, it is a self-sourced strength

Self-sourced courage might be enough to get you to admit that you did something wrong, but it may not get you far enough to admit that what you did was actually a sin that breaks the law of God and offends God and deserves death.

A self-sourced courage might be enough to get you to go see a counselor or a therapist to help you through a situation that you're facing, but won't get you to be completely honest and completely vulnerable and emotionally exposed to share with that therapist or counselor exactly the truth of what is actually happening.

A self-sourced courage might be enough to get you to admit that you are Christian in the midst of people who don't agree with what you believe, but it won't be enough to get you to challenge what they believe and to engage with you in a deeper dialogue.

What we want is the courage to do the right thing, the necessary thing--no matter what it costs us.

The question is, where do we get this courage? The answer is: in Christ. Now, let's get what you want.

Biblical Truths for Courage

Here are 2 biblical truths that will help you to tap into God as the source of your courage and not yourself. Only when God is the source of your courage, will you be able to do hard things.

The first truth that we need to remember as Christians that can really shift the source of our courage from self to God is the truth that God is always with us. Isaiah 41:10 says, "Fear not, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. Yes, I will help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." Romans 8 says something you should actually write down. It says, "We are more than conquerors. If God is for us, who can be against us?" Another verse to supports this truth that you are never alone is Joshua 1:9, which says, "Be strong and courageous, for the Lord is with you wherever you go."

The second biblical truth that can drastically shift the source of your courage from yourself to God is the truth of your identity, the truth of who you actually are. Your true identity is not sourced in your performance, in your reputation, in what people think of you, in what you've done or not done. Your true identity is outside of who you, in Christ.

2 Corinthians 5:17 says, "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has gone, the new has come." Now I'm gonna do what I did with my students in the mastermind, which is simply to remind you of all that you are actually, really and truly, in Christ.

You are loved. You are rescued. You are forgiven. You are reconciled with God. You are known by God. You are chosen, justified. Accepted, alive, free, safe, secure, a new creation, adopted by God. You are Jesus' friend. You are a citizen of heaven.


That list of who you actually truly are aside from your grades, aside from your talents, aside from your awards, aside from what your teachers think of you, aside from what the cool kids think of -- this list can truly change you if you step into reality of what God says you are.

Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone

When we talk about courage, we always talk about this "comfort zone," right? I always challenge my mastermind students to step out of their comfort zones and take a healthy risks to step out in faith.

But what's outside of that comfort zone? It's the growth zone. It's also called the fear zone, and the only way that you can actually step out of the comfort zone of self-doubt is by stepping into who you are in Christ.

Understanding Christ's Love for Courage

In Christ, you have nothing to prove and nothing to earn. 

Here's a visual graphic to help you understand: Aim for Christ, and courage and confidence will follow.

Aim for Jesus at the wheel's top. Understanding Christ's love gives you safety, security, and significance. When you comprehend His love and the gospel, you respond with courage to take healthy risks and face fear.

Acting with courage, knowing who you are in Christ, leads to success. While you might not succeed every time, this experience grows your confidence. Doing right increases your self-respect, which feels like confidence. So, don't aim for courage or confidence directly. Don't pray for confidence. Pray to understand the Gospel. Then courage and confidence will follow as fruits of a life in Christ.

Overcoming Fear with God's Strength

In closing, remember 2 Timothy 1:7: "God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind." Fear is a result of sin in our fallen world. Courage is acting despite fear. As leaders, we should source our courage in God, not ourselves. Consider what God might be calling you to do that seems scary but is achievable with courage sourced in Christ.


If this article or video has been beneficial, please subscribe to the 'Core Qualities of Christian Leaders' playlist and share it. These videos are part of my Sunday night Well-Led Life Leadership Mastermind teachings to middle & high school students. Let me know if you're benefitting from them! Email me at [email protected]