Church Leadership: When Courage Isn’t Sexy

“We must know the territories God has promised us if we are going to step and lead others into them.”

There is a kind of courage that poets use as their clay for the molding of a love poem. It’s the same fabric costume designers use to weave together a cape for their hero. A courage that wins the girl, saves the world—and lives to tell the tale. The “sexy” kind of courage.

Then, there’s the courage that’s not nearly as attractive. It’s less of a leap into the CEO’s chair and more of a step into the whisper of God. It’s the courage of owning up to a poor decision that hurt an employee. The courage of stepping onto the road of reconciliation with a family member. A courage that may not be sexy, but surely is good.

We may be slower to speak of this side of courage, but it’s the courage effective leaders must practice often.

Before God gives Joshua one of the most popular commands in Scripture—“Be strong and of good courage” (Josh. 1:9)—he delivers a perspective-shifting promise: “Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, just as I promised to Moses” (Josh. 1:3)

Notice how God uses future tense for Joshua’s steps, but past tense for Joshua’s inheritance. An incredibly hopeful truth for us today is that God has already secured promises for his children. We just need to step into them.

The key to this perspective of courage is knowing the promises of God. We must know the territories God has promised us if we are going to step and lead others into them.

One example of the countless territories that God has claimed for his children is rest. Stepping toward this territory is not always “sexy.” You may be running on empty and feel as if you cannot let your employees know, but Jesus knows and has secured rest for you: “Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28).

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Your steps toward this promise may require being vulnerable and vocalizing your valley to those around you. Or requesting time off. Or declining the promotion. Whatever step you need to take toward this promise, you can take with good courage knowing that he is with you and has secured rest for you on the other side of the step.

Good courage is the faith-fueled step through the fog and into the future grace that God has promised his children. And we lead of good courage by bringing others along for those steps. The steps may look different for each one of us, but any step toward the promises of God is the withdrawing and wielding of the good courage that he has instilled in the heart of every one us.

What promise do you need to step toward today? It may not be a sexy step fit for a top-selling novel, but it will be a step into the glorious story that God is writing for your good and his glory.

Don’t miss Catalyst Atlanta (Oct. 5-7), one of the largest gatherings in America for leaders who love the church. For more information, visit