“We were made to be courageous,” The Casting Crowns belt out in their song. But what does it mean - to be courageous?
Merriam Webster’s dictionary defines courage as mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty
My lovely friend, Amy Parker, co-authored the new book, Courageous Teens (click on the picture to order) with Michael Catt. In the book they delve into not only what it means to be courageous, but also how to attain that courage. I had the pleasure of interviewing them about the challenge to be courageous.
Laura: Courageous Teens focuses on people in the Bible who displayed great courage when it would have been easier to play it safe. Which one of these characters do you most identify with or are most inspired by? Why?
Michael: I think Daniel, especially when thinking of teenagers and the next generation. They are the future of the church, our future leaders, pastors, and missionaries. We need a generation of Daniels if we are going to take back the culture.
Amy: Esther is such a powerful, inspiring role model for women. Here is an orphaned girl who is able to influence an entire kingdom, to save her people, simply because she was brave enough to stand in courage. When I’m faced with a difficult situation, I can hear Mordecai telling Esther, “Maybe you were chosen for such a time as this.”
Laura: In what areas of life do you think teens need to be courageous?
Michael: There is little difference between teens and their parents—it’s the “fear of man” which is “a snare.” Peer pressure, what others think, is it cool, are all subtle forces that cause us to cave in.
Amy: Wow. In every area! We don’t realize it when we’re young, but so many decisions made in our teen years shape the rest of our lives. That’s why it is vital to train and educate teens and young adults to make courageous decisions now. From this point forward, they must learn it’s okay—encouraged, actually!—to make choices that dare to go against the grain of popular society.
Laura: But that can be so difficult. How do you advise teens to stay strong and be brave when it seems like everything is against them?
Michael: Read the Word, get their examples from people that God marked out as Courageous.
Amy: In Courageous Teens, we help readers start small, to make one courageous decision today. While Michael and I hope the content will help teens think more courageously in general, we also put that courage to work. After every chapter, we give readers a prompt that helps them decide one thing they can do to apply that chapter’s principle to their lives. Right then and there. By the end of the book, they will have done at least ten courageous actions. Actions become habits. Habits form behavior. Before you know it, you’ve got a whole society of courageous teens, standing strong together, making a better world for us all. “Courage is contagious.”
Laura: The book is divided into four sections; Courageous Faith, Courageous Leadership, Courageous Priorities and Courageous Influence. Which one do you think is most important?
Michael: I don’t know if one is more important than the other. I rather think it’s about the flow. You have to have faith if you are going to be a leader. Leaders set priorities, and those who have faith, lead. Leaders set priorities and are influencers.
Amy: I think they all work hand-in-hand, but you’ve got to start with courageous faith. It has to start within you. From there, you’ll build your priorities and lead and influence others. Each part strengthens the other.
Laura: Where do you find courage?
Michael: From The Word of God, from the indwelling Holy Spirit and from reading the biographies of great men.
Amy: This book was just as much a reminder for me as it is for anyone who reads it. It’s a daily quest. I know that “perfect love drives out fear” (1 John 4:18 HCSB). And I know where to find that perfect love. But I have to seek it. Every day. Every day I’m faced with something new, something that scares me, and I have to look perfect love in the face before I have the courage to stand up and step over my fears. I remind myself who and what I’m fighting for. I’m not doing this for me. And I’m not doing this alone.
Joshua 1:9 This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
What one thing can you do today to be Courageous?
Laura L. Smith