For many people in today’s workplace, security is their primary concern: A steady job; an acceptable income; manageable job responsibilities; predictable expectations. And who can blame them? With the world economy remaining as uncertain as ever, simply having a job is a blessing. So avoid saying or doing anything that could jeopardize a “secure” position. Why rock the boat?
Yet most high achievers, those that have left indelible marks in their areas of endeavor, have been ones that exhibited uncommon courage – willing to swim against the current, to challenge the status quo, to venture into the unknown with no guarantees of success.
The examples of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs immediately come to mind, individuals that envisioned uses and capabilities for computers that their peers never dreamed of being possible. We have the classic example of inventors like Thomas Edison, who is said to have remained undaunted by setbacks in his quest to invent the light bulb, convinced that each failure represented one step closer to success.
Where does such courage come from? Sometimes it comes from necessity. A friend, Gary, was mired in a low-paying, hourly wage job unable to satisfy the desires he had for his family. Instead of accepting his circumstances or blaming others for his plight, Gary implemented an extensive personal improvement project, acquiring the tools and skills he needed to become a successful sales executive. Today he urges others to take similar steps of courage. His life has become a living example of a time-honored biblical principle: “The laborer’s appetite works for him; his hunger drives him on” (Proverbs 16:26).
Courage – willingness to step beyond the confines of the familiar, established and dependable – can come from other sources as well:
Courage to take a stand. When you feel strongly enough about a belief or principle, courage demands that you not compromise. Perhaps you believe a change in strategy is necessary, despite opposition. Or maybe you think change would be wrong, regardless of pressures to do so. Follow the example of “…the men of Issachar, who understood the times and knew what Israel should do” (1 Chronicles 12:32).
Courage to proceed despite danger. Moving forward, or instituting major changes, can involve considerable risk. But if you sense God is directing you to move forward, acting boldly with courage is warranted. “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).
Courage to persevere. When goals are not met or expectations fall short, it can be easy to give up. At such times, the courage to persist, to remain focuses on the objective, is essential. “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9).
Courage to act on convictions. The business and professional world can be an amoral environment, ruled by “situational ethics” – whatever it takes to close the deal. It requires courage to stay true to high standards of behavior and practice. “…Stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:58).
Robert J. Tamasy is vice president of communications for Leaders Legacy, Inc., a non-profit organization based in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.A. A veteran journalist, he has written Tufting Legacies (iUniverse); Business At Its Best: Timeless Wisdom from Proverbs for Today’s Workplace (River City Press); and has coauthored with David A. Stoddard, The Heart of Mentoring (NavPress). For more information, see www.leaderslegacy.com or his blogs, www.bobtamasy.blogspot.comand www.bobtamasy.wordpress.com.
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1. How would you define courage? Does courage in a work setting look differently from courage exhibited in one’s personal life?
2. Do you think most people in the 21st century workplace exhibit courage in their daily actions and decisions? Why or why not?
3. Have you ever found it necessary in the performance of your job to take a bold stand that required courage? Explain your answer.
4. In what ways can trust in God’s direct involvement in our lives, even our careers and daily work responsibilities, help us in mustering up the courage necessary to do what is right?
NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about this subject, consider the following passages:
Deuteronomy 31:6-8; Joshua 1:618; Proverbs 13:6; Isaiah 41:10; Jeremiah 29:11