The first step to courage is obedience.
I, like many, have walked through my own journey of obedience, which led to me discovering courage within. At the close of 2010 I found myself in a strange conversation with God; one I had no box for. I had been a youth pastor for seven years but my heart and passion were experiencing a tectonic shift of sorts. Ministry to students had been my life, it was what drove me to work second and third jobs outside the church so that I could volunteer as pastor in the early days of ministry. Yet, despite my years of youth pastoring, slowly my attention and concern was shifting to adults and their spiritual growth. At the heart of this disconnect with my previous ministry call was a growing suspicion that God wanted me to lead a church. ME!
To be completely honest, I had never met a Lead/Senior pastor who was a woman. I had become great friends with another female youth pastor but I had not met a female lead. So with this reality in play when God started speaking to my heart about stepping into a Lead Pastoral role I was uncertain if I could do it. I mean, would I be “allowed”. When you’re a part of a fellowship that ordains women you would hope that you would see a good mix of genders in lead pastoral roles but the chasm between what we say and what we actually do is painfully evident.
What’s a girl to do when she finds that God is saying one thing and the narrative she’s watched and lived in growing up and ministering in the church says something opposite?
Yet, this girl, found herself there. In a back and forth nine month wrestling with God as to whether I would step into the Lead Pastor role of a church I helped plant as a youth pastor. The answer I came to was a shaky “y…ye…yes….I think…yes, Lord I will.”
And that stumbling yes opened the door to a journey I never sought nor expected. Obedience is, to be truthful, the first step of courage. It proved to be close to the hardest step on the road as well. Saying yes, is not easy, especially when you know that you may be the only one on the road who looks like you. You may be the only one in the room who isn’t married, doesn’t have kids, and has never peed standing up (at least on purpose!). But God had asked me to step in and I said yes and that’s how my journey to courage began.
On this journey to courageous leadership I found a friend, in Joshua. He became a companion because he found himself standing before the Lord knowing that Moses, the leader of Israel was dead. The people were watching, waiting, and wondering what would become of them now. And Joshua finds himself in a place and position he (most likely, if he’s anything like me) never imagined. Hearing the voice of God say “Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them….” (Joshua 1:6)
I’m fairly certain Joshua stopped listening for a moment. Dropping back into his own thoughts about what God’s words really meant. But God continues, “…Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)
At this point Joshua has to be thinking, “Sure. I’ll be strong and courageous. No problem, I have that courage in my back pocket!”
Truthfully, we don’t know what Joshua was thinking in response to God’s command to be strong and courageous. All we know is that Joshua goes on to obey God’s directions. What I do know is that “be strong and courageous” is not an easy command to follow.
It may not be an easy command to follow but I think the first step to being strong and courageous is the step of obedience.
Today, where are you on this journey? Are you looking at the first step of obedience that will lead you to live a life of courage? Are you in the middle of a path that requires courage beyond what you think lives inside? Wherever you are know that God is the one who strengthens and brings courage. In the midst of the journey know that your only response to God’s commands is to be obedient! Join the courageous ones by saying “YES” and taking the first step of obedience today!