Does Your Soul Have A Backbone?

Being a coward is not difficult for me.  I don’t like to fight.  I don’t enjoy pain.  Conflict with people closest to me doesn’t energize me.  If given the opportunity between fight or flight, 9 times out of 10 I’d probably choose flight.  How about you?

Since announcing I would be leaving my current position within the ministry I work, I’ve had people congratulate me, tell me they admired me, and even go so far as to say they wish they had the same amount of faith I have.  (Even as I’m typing this, someone messaged me, “Good luck with the job search, so courageous!”) Little do they realize we actually aren’t much different.

I want God to use me for great works, but I don’t want to have to do extraordinary things in order for that to happen.

This past week a friend of mine in Dallas mailed me a letter with a chapter of a book enclosed.  It is a chapter from the book, Replenish: Leading From A Healthy Soul.  The name of the chapter is where I got the name for this post.

In this chapter, the author makes the point that throughout Scripture, we see cowardly men and women consistently picked by God to accomplish great things.  He quotes Erwin Mcmanus:

The history of God’s people is not a record of God searching for courageous men and women who could handle the task, but God transforming the hearts of cowards.”

I totally relate.

In fact, as I read through the Scriptures looking for it, I am quite surprised to see how many times we are told – not to fear, but to be strong, to be courageous, or to be strong and courageous.  Maybe God knows something about us frail humans…

In recent years my track record for tough decisions made in faith has begun to shift.  Finally, I can look in my rear-view mirror to see instances when God led and I followed.  There were tough conversations I had with people, decisions that I didn’t dodge, and even times when principled decisions were made instead of ones that might have been more popular.

So how do we move in the right direction from cowardly to courageous?

Lance Witt, the author of this book, suggests that what moves us from cowardly to courageous has everything to do with our communion with the Father.  There is a steadying force that comes from sitting with God, and understanding Him more clearly by being in the Scriptures.

In addition to this, there have been some basic questions I have asked myself to help me step out courageously.  Here are a few that come to mind:

1. What’s the worst that could happen?  I know, I know.  This sounds extremely unspiritual.  A friend of mine is a therapist, and tells me this is a common conversation with someone struggling with fear.  If you walk down the road of worst case scenarios, you might find the worst case isn’t that bad after all.

2. What’s the problem?  Sometimes I just get hung up on insignificant details.  For me, this is quite common.  There is some element to the decision that is hard to get over.  If I can name it, it becomes easier to sort through it.

3. Do I believe God is faithful?  It is easy to believe God is faithful, but do I really believe God is faithful.  Is it a truth lodged deep within my brain, or is His faithfulness something I have experienced on an ongoing basis?

4. What legacy do I want to leave by this decision?  When I’m reminded that my decisions don’t stop once they are made, it gives each and every decision new meaning to me.  It is in those moments I realize my decisions are shaping future decision-makers.  This could be staff, kids, or both.  If I want people to experience God’s faithfulness by stepping out in faith, how am I modeling that for them?

Living courageously isn’t always a smooth process.  That is evident throughout Scripture as well.  People were put in jail, sold into slavery, or even put to death.  I made a decision a few years ago that cost me a close friend for a few years.  It wasn’t until recently that he began to speak to me again.  But now that I’m a few years removed from that situation, I can see clearly through it how God was faithful.  This, in turn, helps increase the strength of my “backbone.”

How strong is yours?

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Comments

  1. Lindadhardin March 5, 2012 at 11:08 am #

    Love this post! You hit the nail on the head with #3. (and 1 and 2 and 4) :-)

    • Kevin East March 5, 2012 at 11:30 am #

      Acting on our belief that God is faithful, I think, is difficult for most. The one that helps me move the most is #4, as I realize I am shaping future decision-makers.

  2. Anonymous March 5, 2012 at 4:33 pm #

    I enjoying reading your post and desire your faith.

    • Kevin East March 5, 2012 at 10:25 pm #

      Take baby steps, and watch what God does…

  3. Dave Anderson March 6, 2012 at 7:30 am #

    I just wrote a post on courage for my blog that I will post in the future. The quote I love is from CS Lewis: “Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at its testing point.”

    I believe God tests our courage with little decisions everyday. These tests prepare us for a larger decision that needs courage in the future.

  4. Kool Aid (AKA Missie Gautsch) March 7, 2012 at 7:26 am #

    Exactly what I needed to read this morning…
    #1 is not unspiritual… I think I have to ask myself that (What is the worst that could happen?) and follow it up with “And will God be THERE if it does?” I so often am terrified to obey His directive because I don’t truly trust Him with the outcome. “Oh, you of little faith…”

    • Kevin East March 7, 2012 at 12:53 pm #

      You are right; He will not abandon us. Kind of like when people tell me they could never become foster parents because it would be too tough to say goodbye to those children. God’s grace is big enough to cover us in the midst of that temporary pain. No need to simply avoid it.