“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear” – Nelson Mandela
Think of something you’ve always wanted to accomplish. So why haven’t you done it yet? Not enough time, not enough money, too lazy, no one to do it with, too fearful?
As a young adult, I was quick to take risks, to follow my heart, to try new things and to step outside my comfort zone. If I wanted to accomplish or experience something, I just did it. I made the necessary changes, set up accountability, cast aside my nervousness and walked bravely. But I’ve noticed that as I’ve aged, my ability and desire to take risks has declined. I’m not as willing to sacrifice, to get uncomfortable and to be brave.
When we remain comfortable, when we resist change, when we don’t follow the will of God, when we are unable to trust God, what kind of example are we being to those that follow us? We all have people following us, whether it’s in ministry, at work where we lead 100’s of employees or at home where we are under the watchful eye of our children. Are we showing our followers that it’s okay to take chances even when we’re terrified?
I’m not talking about risky behaviour that will negatively affect you or someone else. I’m talking about doing what you’re called to do, getting out of your comfort zone, following your heart and doing these things with courage! Taking risks is about pushing the boundaries of your comfort zone and growing into your full potential.
There are many reasons why we fear taking risks: possibility of failure, scared because of past failures, negative self-talk, fear of succeeding and then not knowing what to do, comfortability with the current situation, fear of losing friends or followers, or too many unknowns. Maybe you struggle with one or all of these.
My daughter just recently learned how to ride her bike. It was an extremely exciting moment for her (and for me). She was terrified of riding alone, of falling and of failing, and she was terrified of what others would think. And you know what motivated her to continue trying? Her best friend (who is a year older and a confident rider) and myself, getting on our own bikes and riding alongside her.
I share this example because I believe it’s a very normal way that people learn. Learning by example, having friends or leaders walking (or in this case, riding) alongside us and having leaders cheering and encouraging from in front, beside and behind.
A great example of this comes from Joshua 1:9. God is affirming Joshua in his leadership of the Israelites after the death of Moses. He tells Joshua, ‘Be strong and courageous. Do you not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.’ God desires for us to be strong leaders and to follow Him in the ‘risks’ He calls us to. God gave us a ‘spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control’ (2 Timothy 1:7).
So what kind of ‘risks’ are we being called to? Are we willing to step out of our comfort zone? Do we lead bravely and with courage as God has empowered us to do? If so, then we will inspire those around us to do the same.
As we grow older, let’s lead by example, let’s continue to push out our boundaries, let’s follow God’s calling and let’s continue to lead bravely!
Megan Wylie is a global worker in Bangkok, Thailand. She is a wife and a mother to three little ones and has worked as a running coach, exercise therapist with seniors, birth doula/coach and currently is the director of health and wellness with Imagine Thailand. She is passionate about: teaching others to be brave, going on adventures, holistic health and Canadian waffles.