“Haven’t I commanded you: be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 (CSB)
Do Not Be Afraid
Do you remember a time when you were afraid? Fear comes in many forms often as a result of something unknown such as fear of trying something new, fear of being in a new places, fear of something uncontrollable, fear of a strange noise in the middle of the night, and many others. We all feel fear at some time and in some way.
Moses had passed away, and Joshua had taken on the mantle as Israel’s leader. He was standing face-to-face with a whole world of questions and unknowns. Could he be as good of a leader as Moses? Would God’s people follow Him even when things get tough? Could he lead God’s people to take the land God had promised?
God instructed Joshua to be courageous and not be afraid. God’s gave two primary reasons Joshua had no grounds to be fearful of what was ahead: 1) God’s promise to be with him (v 5) and 2) Joshua had “God’s Word” to lean on (v 7-8).
These are the same promises we have as followers of Jesus. Jesus Himself promised He would be with us always (Matthew 28:20) and Peter reminds us we have “all we need for life and godliness” through the indwelling Spirit of God and the Scriptures (2 Peter 1:3)
We must be careful, though, not assume our trust in God guarantees all things will work out in the exact way we want. No, our courage is based on our trust in God who is working out His plan.
Psalm 56:3 gives us a great prayer: “When I am afraid, I will trust in you.”
God, when I am afraid, help me trust that You are with me and have given me all I need to be courageous.
I recently heard this quote on ABC’s Last Man Standing. The episode is entitled “The Dad Hat” and originally aired on 11.5.2015.
The tough balance for any parent is providing a harness to keep our kids safe without taking away the victory of the climb.
~ Tim Allen, #LastManStanding
Anyone who has been a parent for any length of time will quickly relate to the truth in this statement. Most parents constantly engage in this internal battle between the desires for their child to succeed and to protect them from harm and failure.
I think of one of my nieces who is into indoor rock climbing. I don’t know a great deal about rock climbing, but one thing I’ve been told is that entry level rock climbing makes use of belay ropes for safety and support. These belay ropes allow a person to embrace the thrill of climbing to new heights but with the peace of mind that someone is holding the rope to keep you from falling. As long as you trust the person holding the rope, risk of danger is relatively small.
As parents this is what we want to do for our kids. We want our kids to try new things, climb, and succeed while we provide a safety net from failure that could cause them pain. I recently heard my wife say to one of our children:
There are 2 kinds of people in the world: those that fail & try harder and those that fail & quit.
(Of course there is, also, that third kind of person who is too afraid of failure to try at all.)
We cannot protect our kids from failure without shielding them from the invigorating joy of victory and ultimately preventing them from becoming the people they can and should be. Instead, we need to inspire our kids to work hard and not fear failure. How do we provide a safety net for our kids? I imagine that there are various ways this can be done in specific circumstances, but the primary way families should do this is by ensuring a safe place for their kids. This safe place means that we detach a child’s value from his performance. Each child must know, beyond any doubt, that he can try something new, and whether he succeeds or not, his family loves and will encourage him. We do our children great harm if we allow them to think that we believe they are failures. Even if the world turns on them, children need to know that failing does not make someone a failure, but quitting does. The old attage is true:
If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.
The Bible has much to say about avoiding idleness in the pursuit of hard work (Proverbs 14:23, Proverbs 18:9, Proverbs 21:25, and more), and we are often encouraged to do so under the leadership and power of the Holy Spirit. We are, also, charged with different priorities than others; we are commanded to “seek first the Kingdom of God” (Matthew 6:33) and to “set our minds on things above.” (Colossians 3:2). We have these divine commands because God knows that the pursuit of His Kingdom provides hope, and that hope is the key to providing the right kind of safety net for our kids: grace. Ultimately, this hope is found in the grace of Jesus. In fact, the Bible makes this connection in Romans 5
Since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. We have also obtained access through Him by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope. This hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.. (vv 1-5)
Be the Parent:
Be the parent who encourages and challenges your child to new heights. Let him climb. Teach him early that his value is not tied to success or to failure. As a parent, guard your own heart from attaching your child’s value (and your own for that matter) to his performance. Be the parent that models courage by holding the belay rope while your child is young but allowing him to try new things all while maintaining an atmosphere of grace and hope in your home. Preventing your child from experiencing failure will likely lead to fear of trying. Be the parent who inspires hard work, perseverance, and courage instead of laziness, apathy, and fear.
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston Churchill*
“Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” – Robert F. Kennedy*
* Final quotes taken from http://www.forbes.com/sites/ekaterinawalter/2013/12/30/30-powerful-quotes-on-failure/