There are many words to describe bravery. But what does it actually mean? When I think of bravery, I typically think of having no fears, or being fearless. But recently I took a literature class with the theme “being brave.” In that class I learned that actually, in order to have true bravery, fear must be present. Bravery happens when someone looks at his or her weaknesses, breaks them down and uses what’s left to build a new strength. 1 Corinthians 16:13 1 Corinthians 16:13Watch you, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.
American King James Version×says, “Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong.” Bravery is a powerful tool that helps us accomplish more than we ever could without it.
What is the opposite of bravery? The opposite of being brave is when you try to hide your weaknesses, but by doing so nurture and protect them, building them up. The problem with this is that the more you build up your weaknesses, the harder it becomes to tear them down.
Everyone is guilty of acting cowardly—even the bravest-seeming person. I know I have acted cowardly many times. Sometimes when I am with other young people and they don’t treat me or someone else quite the way they should, I stay silent instead of speaking up because I just don’t want to be put on the spot. Often in these situations, I end up either stepping away or, if it’s about me, laughing about it and calling myself a dork. However, afterwards I always feel bad and wish I had stood up for myself or whoever was being ridiculed. It never pays to be cowardly.
Can just anybody learn to be brave? I learned from my teacher that bravery is not a special gift given to only some people—anyone can learn to be brave. You don’t have to be especially strong or smart. You don’t have to spend years of college trying to learn everything about it. It can be found in the smallest child, the loneliest outsider, the most broken heart—you just have to search it out.
My class on bravery inspired me to think more about how to grow in this area. I came up with these three steps for developing bravery:
1. Identify your weaknesses
It’s easy to hide your weaknesses or pretend they don’t exist. But fears are like weeds. If you don’t address them immediately, they grow until they are too big to remove as easily. Be completely honest with yourself.
2. Break them down
Ask yourself, why is this a problem for me? This is a good time to get help from people who know you well. Just talking to someone who is a good listener may help you puzzle through your feelings, even if they just listen and don’t say anything! Parents, older siblings or a school guidance counselor are all good places to start.
3. With God’s help, learn and build new strength out of them
If you’re afraid of speaking in public, the first step would be to ask yourself why this scares you. Then you could look up the verses in the Bible that talk about courage, faith and being a light. A topical index is great for doing this. Then, instead of thinking about what could go wrong, think about all the things that could go right. Throughout the process, pray to God for help to overcome your fears.
Matthew 17:20 Matthew 17:20And Jesus said to them, Because of your unbelief: for truly I say to you, If you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you shall say to this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible to you.
American King James Version×says, “. . . if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.” God will help you. God wants to help you. Think about how brave you can be with the Creator of the entire universe on your side! CC