“Courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities because it is the quality that guarantees all others.”
~ Winston Churchill
Courage is the ability to do something that frightens one. Going deeper, it is the ability and willingness to confront fear, pain, uncertainty, danger, or intimidation.
How does one become courageous? Why is having courage so important? Where do we go to learn courage? If Churchill is correct, courage is of utmost importance because without it, one cannot think, do, and act on all the other virtues.
Courage is specifically for those who are afraid. Courage is for those who consider their options and see that they could go both ways. They could stay locked in their fear, or they could step out and risk, try, stand out from the crowd, think differently, try something new, speak out about something they believe.
We’ve all been through those moments – usually, our heart is pounding. We want to just take the leap of faith and step out but something nags at us, “What if I fail? What if people ridicule me? What if I fall flat on my face?”
Being a person of courage doesn’t give us a “pass” from failure. Courageous people often fail, get laughed at, even burned at the stake (enter Joan of Arc here).
Being courageous doesn’t always mean being successful, praised, or made a hero. What is does mean is having the character, confidence and conviction to confront our fears.
So – how to we help our kids grow in these ways?
Character – integrity and character are built when children have a moral compass to guide them in what is right and wrong. It is up to us as parents to provide them with this.
For every family, this will look differently. For our family, we look to Jesus Christ as our example for character and to the Bible for our textbook on right living and thinking. This way, our entire family is held to the same standard.
Providing an Example of Courage- this goes along with character. If we let our kids know that Mom or Dad will not impose a standard of character on them that we are not willing to live out, we provide them with consistency through our example. We live what we teach.
When our kids watch Mommy or Daddy apologize when we do something wrong, face uncertain times with peaceful fortitude, try something new, or act on our convictions, they will learn that they, too, can be courageous.
Confidence – Confident kids who are willing to risk and fail are those who are loved unconditionally. They have not been cut down, abused, or forced to live up to perfectionistic standards just to gain parental approval.
Confident kids know that their parents love them and therefore, even if they do fall or fail, they can come back into a safe place, embrace safe arms, and be loved for who they are, not what they do.
When kids are loved unconditionally, courage can bloom because they already have all that they need. They can risk because they know they won’t lose what’s most important.
Conviction – this goes back to character. Conviction comes from our core beliefs. Our conscience speaks to us regularly if we will listen.
It says things like:
“If you are vulnerable and share what you’ve been through, it could allow this person to open up and receive healing.”
“If you do not speak up, something bad could happen to that person.”
“Even though no one else is doing this, if I don’t try, I’ll never know if it might have worked – and benefitted many others.”
Acts of courage usually end up being more about others than ourselves. Because when we face our fears and follow our convictions, others will gain confidence to follow.
Others will see that, while stepping out may end in temporary failure, only refusing to step out with result in permanent defeat.
So let’s love our kids without condition, help them grow in character, and encourage them in their pursuits and convictions – that they may become courageous kids.
Photo by: Celestine Chua