How to Inspire Courage in Others


Words can either build faith or demolish hope. Do you have what it takes to inspire others to live in courage?

I watched a little YouTube video yesterday called “Validation.” It reminded me once again of the power my words have for others as well as for myself. Our minister did a whole sermon on “In Courage”. His definition of “in courage” was to “To build up another to live in courage!” We all love to be around people builders, those who “in courage” us or tell us we are doing great. They give us some affirmation that we are on track to support us along our life journey.

Then there are others who, when we comment on the bad day we are having, they (with all the intention of making us feel better) top our story with how bad things are for them. Perhaps this contrast to their calamity is to make me feel better, but in reality it has been a non-validation of my circumstances. It’s a “Your problems are nothing, just look at mine!” attitude. It has minimized me as a person and caused me to beat myself up for not bouncing over this hurdle with Olympic athleticism. Rather than turning my thinking upwards it has sent me spiralling down to contemplating just how much of a wimp I am and now I feel even worse!

I never suggest we crawl down in the hole with a person and wallow about how bad things are. Empathy can bring “in couragement” to be strong where sympathy can just make the state of affairs seem larger, the load too heavy and solutions impossible. When a friend cares enough to give a listening ear of empathy, just the fact that someone cares can lift our heart to a new belief strata.

On the other hand, I am not suggesting we minimize the depressing challenges in life by being frivolous and careless. I heard a mother say flippantly to a child whose favourite toy had just broken “You’ll get over it”. The child was in tears and this response did not lessen the pain or build a relationship. The child may get over the toy being broken, but will remember the pain of rejection shot into her little heart.

Pain is real and a burden shared lessens the burden.

Just the fact that someone cares can be a huge blessing. Just the little call that says, “I am thinking of you. How are you going?” Or perhaps a little handwritten card in the mail that says, “You are special-–Thinking of you” can be a huge thing for someone going through tough times. It can be the difference between going under and going over.

I am reminded of the story of the man with no feet that my mother told me when I complained about my tight shoes. Compared to no feet, I appreciate having feet with tight shoes. It is always a good thing to count our blessings and refocus on the good in our lives instead of the bad. It seems when I start to “count my blessings” as the old hymn goes — “name them one by one and it will surprise you what the Lord has done” — that life seems lighter. Focusing on the good lifts my spirits. When I am looking upward I can see the stars instead of the mud I see when I am looking down.

When I was given the diagnosis of six weeks to live, it was amazing how many people said, “Oh, how tragic. What will the children do with no Mum?” I had to minimize my time with these people because their comments destroyed the hope in me that cancer could be conquered.

There were others who supported me and said, “Yvonne, you are a fighter. You will come out the other side of this with more strength than you have ever had before!” They “in-couraged” me to keep believing the best–in the possibility of a good outcome. Their words gave me strength to hold on and then live up to those words of in-couragement. I added their faith to mine and together we achieved!

Words–they build faith or destroy hope. Who are you–a builder or a demolisher?

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