Tag Archives: brave

First Thoughts on Bravery

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In my 2016 preview post, I wrote that my defining word for the year is bravery. In this post I want to talk a little about what this theme means and means for my 2016. The definition of brave is simply to be ready to face and endure danger or pain. In other words, bravery requires a dangerous or painful force that must be overcome.

As I reflect on that definition within my life, I have to admit that often the dangerous or painful force that I have to overcome is me. Sometimes it’s an attitude of cynicism. Sometimes it’s fear. Sometimes it’s a quick tempter. Sometimes it’s saying too much. Sometimes it’s not taking an opportunity and saying too little. And sometimes it’s mistakes of the past or the unknowns of the future. If you are like me, then you have these (and other) dangerous and painful forces within you too that must be overcome. Many times the one place we need to be bravest is with ourselves.

The funny thing about bravery is that being brave doesn’t necessarily mean that you are going to win. On one hand it means that whether one is considered brave or not doesn’t depend on the outcome. On the other hand it means that bravery doesn’t equal success. What’s important is simply that one is brave; the outcome is secondary. To say it another way, if the input is bravery, then the output is secondary- no matter what the output may be.

Our culture tells us and teaches us to only be concerned with the output- the outcome. As long as the outcome is success, so our culture says, it doesn’t matter how you achieve it. We may not be able to control the outcome but we can control how we face the problem, issue, adversity or pain.

What does this mean for my 2016? What could it mean for you?

First, if there is no adversity then there is no opportunity to be brave. Most of the time we want a care free and adversity free life but when we think about being brave and living a brave life, we simply cannot do that without some kind of adversity.

Second, I can choose the attitude with which I face adversity. I choose bravery. I don’t want this to sound like an egocentric idea of positive thinking or a self-help trick. On the contrary, if it were up to me to be brave, I would almost always fail. However, by walking with Jesus and believing that the Spirit of God lives in me- it gives me confidence to know that God is interested in my life and my journey to make me more like Jesus. And if God is interested in my life and is trying to make me more like Jesus then I can face adversity in my life with bravery.

Third, if I choose my attitude then, even if I can’t influence the outcome, I can accept the outcome. Again, if left up to me this would be impossible. However, if God is in control and if God’s plan is to make me look more like Jesus then I can be confident in the outcome.

A lot of things might happen this year, let’s face our adversity with bravery.


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Rejection, Compassion and Being Brave

Sometimes I still get a few butterflies in my stomach when I hit the “publish” button at the end of writing a post. There’s something about spending time writing, editing and crafting something then putting it out into the world for others to see, interact with and, potentially, to reject. When you put a little piece of yourself out for others to examine, some will accept it while others will reject it- that’s just the reality.

Beyond writing, this idea of putting ourselves out for others to examine impacts areas of our lives ranging from a school presentation, to a sales pitch, to asking someone on a date, to sharing an opinion, idea or aspect of your faith. The phrase “to yourself out there” even implies the sense of the unknown and with the unknown comes fear.

A few months ago I read the book Rejection Proof by Jia Jiang. In the book, he makes a revealing statement, “I rejected my own ideas before they could be rejected by the world.” I think that’s were most of us land. We reject ourselves and our own ideas before we ever “put them out there” for others.

But why? We could come up with several reasons but I think one of the major reasons is because we believe that whatever we put out there isn’t important or worth anything for anyone else.

What if we did have something that was worth everything? Would that make us braver about putting ourselves out there? Studies don’t support that, at least when it comes to following Jesus. The Reveal study found that of those they classify as “Christ-Centered” (the highest level of spiritual maturity) almost 80% said that they “strongly agree that they love God more than anything.” But only 20% said that they invited six or more non-Christians to church in the last year and only 40% said that had six or more meaningful spiritual conversations with non-Christians in the last year. (Move: What 1,000 Churches Reveal About Spiritual Growth, 86-87).

Those numbers show the disconnect that exists within the lives of even the most spiritually mature followers of Jesus. If God were truly the most important thing, the thing that worth everything, wouldn’t that impact those around us? I think we would all agree that it should, but why doesn’t it?

Again, we could come up with many potential reasons but what it comes down to is two possibilities: 1. We don’t really love God more than anything    2. We love ourselves (our reputation, our comfort, our security, our status quo, our churches) more than we love people around us.

In the Gospel of Matthew, four times it says Jesus saw the people and was moved with compassion for them and twice Jesus quotes Hosea 6:6, “I desire compassion and not sacrifice.”

When I put myself out there because of compassion for you, because you matter, because I want what’s best for you then maybe I can be braver in what I say and how I live. I no longer have to have you validate the worth of what I put out. Yes, rejection can still happen and it can still hurt but at least it’s rejection for being brave and it’s a step beyond rejecting myself.

To put yourself out there requires bravery. To love God more than anything requires bravery. Compassion requires bravery. We need more bravery.

Where do you need to brave?