In life, in our history, in our experience and in everything we do, oftentimes a single act of courage is the tipping point for something extraordinary.
A single expression or act of courage can begin a transition point for something absolutely extraordinary.
It begins a transition that takes people by surprise.
The individuals involved often have no idea what they are a part of. Dec 1, 1955 – a 42 year-old African American woman decided not to give up her seat on a bus to a white man. Rosa Parks became an international symbol for racial equality.
You can go back through every kind of history and see individuals or small groups of people making single acts of courage that. This should be of particular interest to those of us who are Christians.
Throughout the Bible we see the very same thing: men and women who display courage that brings them onto the scene of history.
• Abraham decided to leave his home and follow God – a nation was born.
• Moses returned to Egypt to face Pharaoh – a tipping point for the nation of Israel.
• Joshua crossing the River.
• Joseph forgiving his brothers.
• David facing Goliath.
• Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego
• Joseph deciding to marry his fiance Mary.
The problem with all of these stories is that they are so big and dramatic. If we found ourselves in those circumstances and someone told us how they would end it would be easy to take courage. In our everyday life things don’t seem so big or dramatic. In spite of the fact that our stories won’t be so dramatic, there are still opportunities and circumstances in our lives and in church leadership that will be tipping points for something extraordinary in our lives.
Challenges and moments of fear in our lives will represent tipping points for our ministry. It won’t be as dramatic or public or the things legends are made of, but in our lives and in our context, there will be multiple circumstances that will demand the kind of courage we tend to shrink back from. It will be a tipping point for something extraordinary in our life and in our ministry.
3 Faces of Courage
1 – Courage to stay when it would be easier to go.
• “When I look around at the circumstances everything in me says, “go.” But when I get on my knees and ask God, He tells me to stay.” – Charles Stanley
• Some of us are in tough ministry environments right now and that makes coming to conferences difficult. There’s nothing going on.
• Sometimes it would be easier to go. We’ve maybe even had offers to go other places.
• Whenever everything around us says, “go” but we know in our hearts that God wants us to stay, our decision to stay may be the single act of courage that is the tipping point for something extraordinary in our lives. You will never know unless you stay. For all of us in life or in our ministry, something in us will want to leave when God wants us to stay.
2 – Courage to leave, when it would be easier to stay.
• I faced the challenge of choosing to go or stay with his father’s ministry • Sometimes we have to walk away from something. Sometimes we have to walk way, not to something, but we just have to walk away. To walk away can oftentimes feel irresponsible. I read the book A Tale of Three Kings and had a moment of clarity. “Beginning empty-handed and alone, frightens the best of men. It also speaks volumes of just how sure they are God is with them.”
• I chose to go. From that decision, North Point Community Church was born.
• 4 years into our ministry at North Point, my wife said to him, “What if we hadn’t left?”
• You have no idea what God will do hanging in the balance of the decision to go.
• Sometimes God will tell us to go and it will be easier to stay when things are big, huge, and already successful.
• That decision, that expression of courage is our Goliath... that’s it.
• It’s not dramatic and no one will ever know besides us and God, but that single
decision could be the tipping point for something extraordinary in our lives and in our ministry.
• Some of you need to quit what you are doing and go back to school.
• Some of you need to leave the marketplace and go into ministry.
3 – Courage to ask for help, when it would be easier to pretend like everything’s okay.
• Secrets are dangerous.
• Secrets grow into ugly things in our dark places of our hearts.
• Secrets are what take Christian leaders out, not theology.
• Christian leaders lose places of influence because of their secrets.
• People won’t ask for help because they are afraid.
• One of the most courageous steps we could take is the step to get help.
• Secrets influence the way you lead.
• When you carry a secret you compensate for it in your leadership.
• It’s more important for leaders to get help more than any other segment.
• In leadership, you’re at the front and it’s harder at the front.
• We face more pressure, more responsibility, criticism, etc. We are never “not at work.”
• That makes it even more difficult to compensate for it in our leadership.
• Whatever you fear secretly will be compensated in your leadership.
• We are afraid of what people will think about us and what we will find out about
• The simple act of asking for help may be the most courageous thing you ever do as a Christian leader.
• By refusing to ask for help, you may be robbed of the extraordinary thing God wants to do in you and through you.
• If someone you love and trust says, “Maybe you should get some help with that...” you should!
• One of the expressions of courage we must face is to be willing to have the courage to ask for help.
What you should be afraid of...
• Our greatest fear for our lives should be waking up and realizing we are outside of God’s will for our lives.
• There’s nothing worse in Christian leadership than not having the confidence that you are where you need to be, doing what God is calling you to do.
• If you minister or lead without confidence it will show.
• If we have the fear of the Lord we won’t do anything that moves us out of the center of His will for our lives, our family, our ministry, etc.
• Fear the Lord more than what people say about us, than poverty, than missing the break-out moment.
• Ask: “When this is all over, when this all said and done, what story do you want to tell?”
• As you think about the tension you are living in with your ministry, what story do you want to tell?
• Tell the story of making the courageous decision.
• If God says go, go.
• If God says stay, stay.
• If God says disclose, disclose.
Those expressions of courage may be the tipping point of the extraordinary thing God wants to do in and through your life.
Andy Stanley, Catalyst 2011. Notes by timschraeder.com. Used by permission of Catalyst leadership.