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Cultivating a Courageous Heart

courage discouragement fear heart and mind hopelessness overcoming overwhelm strength strong vision Jun 01, 2024

Have you ever needed more courage but didn't know how to summon it in the moment? 

Maybe you were facing a hard conversation, a difficult task, or a steep challenge. Sometimes it seems like life demands more than we have to give at the time. 

What if there was a way to cultivate your courage and build a reservoir of more than enough, so that the next time you face a crisis or a need, you'll be ready? 

King David was one of those guys always bumping into this problem. You might know his story: shepherd boy turned king. The guy who dropped Goliath with a slingshot. But he wasn't always a winner. Once after a particularly bitter defeat, he was completely deflated. Here's what the account says: "David was greatly distressed because the men were talking of stoning him; each one was bitter in spirit because of his sons and daughters. But David found strength in the Lord his God" (1 Samuel 30:6, NIV).

He was greatly distressed.

BUT. 

He found strength in the Lord his God.

Discouragement is actually a very common issue with our hearts. Almost like we should expect it and not be surprised when it shows up.

What will discouragement find the next time it knocks on the door of your heart? Will it find a heart that is greatly distressed, or a heart that has found strength?

One of the admirable qualities of David was that he didn't wait for strength to find him. He found strength. That was a habit of his. If you read the Bible you can't help but see it. He was proactive, and he took ownership of his own attitude and strength. 

Wouldn't you love to be like that? 

If so, here are 4 Disciplines of the Mind and Heart that can help you develop courage to face your challenges:

1. Double down on good input. 

Where did David look for that strength we talked about? In the Lord! That included rehearsing the things he knew about God - the promises, the truths, the faithfulness. And it included talking with God through prayer. These were habits David practiced and passed on to us. 

The trick is not JUST having a trigger during hard times that points you to God's promises. Yes, that's important. The real win is practicing those habits consistently - on the normal days, the great days AND the tough days. That's what builds up your reservoir of strength. 

Stop for a second and think about what's going into your mind and heart on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. How could you redirect some of it toward the positive? How can you slow down the negative and increase the good input?

2. Integrate your insights.

If you've ever had one of those blinding flashes of insight that just really gets you jolted into a courageous space, you know how powerful a thought can be. Sometimes we have those thoughts and we let them happen and it changes our day. But then we let that moment pass, we move on to the next day and we don't integrate that insight into our lives.

What does that mean - integrate your insight? 

When I was a kid I remember having the opportunity to work with a farmer. He was a hard worker, and he taught me some things about hard work. I remember lifting irrigation lines with him in the field and moving them, one by one for hours at a time. I noticed that he would work in sprints - hours of hard work followed by a short break. As I grew older I thought back to that lesson often - working in sprints and then taking a short break. I've made that part of my life and work at this point, and now I don't even think about it. But I realize that it's one of the reasons I can keep going and not burn out. Looking back, it was my farmer friend who taught me, and helped me integrate that insight into my life.

How about you? What insights have you learned this week? This month? This year? Have you recorded them? Have you identified a few insights you can turn into habits so that you can continue to get stronger? That's what David did, and it's part of why he kept growing stronger and stronger.

3. Set intentions for who you will be. 

From our earliest introductions to King David, we see a young man who was clear on the kind of person he wanted to be. Never perfect, but consistently seeking to be a man after God's own heart. 

It's that inner character that determines your strength in the time of battle, right? And when you face that intense moment and lean on your character, you want to know it's solid. 

So...what character do you want to form? Who do you want to be? 

It's funny that most of us will put more planning into a vacation that we will into our character. Have you thought about who you want to become? Have you put time and intentionality into how you will grow as a person? If not, now is the time! The trouble with life is that it will let you procrastinate this decision indefinitely. The world will never reinforce the hard work of character development. You must decide for yourself, and begin building toward that goal.

Scripture is full of direction for character development, and I think one of the most helpful passages comes from Galatians 5:22-23. It says, "But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!" (NLT). These nine great qualities, called "The fruits of the Spirit," are a great place to begin in thinking about who you want to become. As you grow in each trait, you will find yourself stronger, more capable, more ready for battle, and equipped to overcome discouragement when it shows back up in your life.

4. Have a vision beyond your valley.

It's easy to get stuck in a tough place. Whether it's financial hardship, a leadership challenge, market conditions or a difficult relationship, we can all develop a bit of tunnel vision, seeing only our current struggle. It's easy to forget that tough times never last. 

Once again, this was a part of David's life that made him so easy to follow. He looked out past the struggle. He knew there was a better day coming. He knew God had called him to greater heights. He knew he wouldn't always be running from the enemy. 

What's your vision beyond the valley? What will your life, your organization, your family or your career look like when you succeed? Can you fast forward for a minute and put yourself in that place? Stop and think about it. Imagine it. Describe it. Picture yourself in it. That's the kind of vision that can lift you up in times of trouble - to know and believe that God has good plans for you, that His promises are trustworthy and He can carry you through. 

If you're facing rejection, fear or defeat in your life right now, pause for just a minute to review these 4 disciplines. Know that you're not alone, and remember that tough times never last. Your character is growing, your strength is building, and you're becoming a person who can see discouragement coming and meet it with a mind and heart full of courage to overcome. 

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