3 Ways We Let Others Kill Our Courage

In 2006, actor Will Smith starred in The Pursuit of Happyness. The movie is based on the life of Chris Gardner, a man who struggled to find success while being homeless for a year. In one scene, Chris and his young son shoot hoops on the roof of a downtown building. As the boy dribbles and shoots, he yells, “I’m going pro!” His father tells him not to waste too much time on basketball. “I was below average, so you’ll probably ultimately rank around there,” he said. The boy’s face sinks. Dejected, he walks away, puts his ball in a shopping bag, and stares out over the city. Smith’s character realizes what he’s done, looks at his boy, and says, “Don’t ever let somebody tell you you can’t do something. Not even me.”

It takes courage to do something new, scary, or difficult. Sometimes, we want to show courage, but fear keeps us from trying. All too often, like for the boy in the movie, others’ fear is what holds us back. Here are 3 ways we let others kill our courage.

1. We value their opinions too much.

Ever been told you would fail because you weren’t smart enough, fast enough, or talented? When we start to believe others’ opinions, we tend to try less. Instead of letting others kill your courage, remember times when bravery led you to victory. That first home run. That first big sale. That first A on a test. Naysayers’ opinions have less influence over your courage when you confidently remember all you’ve accomplished. Use that as fuel to slay your next giant.

Stare at your problems, and remember that God is with you while you face them.

2. We fear failing others.

We should not let others down purposefully, but thinking we can never fall short is foolish. Despite our best efforts, we will fail. The bigger issue is failing to try at all. The risk of coming up short is a real fear for many people, so they never get out of the dugout and stand at the plate. Will others be upset if we fail repeatedly? Maybe. How will we become successful more consistently? By showing courage and trying hard without regard for failure.

3. We copy their lack of courage.

It’s easy to let others’ lack of courage give us permission to follow suit. Back to the movie, Smith’s character gives some great advice after making that basketball blunder. He tells his son, “You got a dream, you got to protect it. People can’t do something themselves, they want to tell you you can’t do it. You want something, go get it. Period.”

I see this same attitude in one of the great leaders of history. Joshua didn’t invite his followers to be courageous. He commanded it. He told the Israelites, “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9). Don’t let others’ lack of courage spill onto you. Be bold and go for it. Stare at your problems, and remember that God is with you while you face them.

What are some ways you can display courage with your friends, marriage, and work this week? 

Huddle up with your kids and ask, “Who is someone you think has courage? Why do you think that?”