The Courage to Both Live and Lead

courage.jpgA few
years ago, I met a minister here in Waco who has given much of his life toward working with the poor.  At lunch one day, I learned that he had a long time relationship with the head
football coach of our local high school.  I was in the school gym one day, saw the
coach, and told him about my relationship with his friend.  His reply? 
“He’s a good man.  He’s got a
street level faith.
”

 
“Street level faith”


There is
something about that phrase that I like:

 

Street-level
faith is the faith of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Street-level
faith is the faith needed for ministry when you find yourself in the middle of
someone else’s life.

Street-level
faith is where you live as a person in whom Christ dwells.

Street-level
faith is a faith that requires courage. 

 
It takes
courage to live for the Lord every day at street level.  It takes courage to lead people to the
Lord. 

 
I believe
the courage to live and lead is a courage that ultimately comes
from God’s forever-presence, the Holy Spirit. 
God’s presence has a way of bridling our fear and building our courage.

 
Think of
the many people who God spoke to regarding his presence:

 

To
Isaac he said, “Stay in this land for a while, and I
will be with you and bless you.”
(Gen. 26:3)

To
Jacob he said, “Go back to the land of your fathers…and
I will be with you.”
(Gen. 31:3)

Regarding
Joseph, the writer of Genesis says that “the Lord was
with Joseph and he prospered and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master
when his master saw that the Lord was with him”
(Gen. 29:3)

To
Moses he said, “The Lord himself goes before you and
will be with you: he will never leave you or forsake you.  Do not be afraid.  Do not be discouraged”
(Dt. 31:8).

To
Joshua he said, “No one will be able to stand up
against you all the days of your life. 
As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you or
forsake you.”
(Joshua 1:5).

To
the Israelites, he said, “So do not fear, for I am with
you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. 
I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous
hand.”
  The Lord went on to say to
the same people, “For I am the Lord, your God, who
takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you…”  (Isa. 41)

 
It takes
courage to lead in ministry
.

 

The courage
to keep going when you feel alone.

The courage
not to just “settle” when others would be very happy to do just that.

The courage
to not let the fear of failure shut down any initiative we might take.

The courage
to face opposition.

The courage
to both proclaim (teach and preach) and perform (live out) the Gospel.

The courage
to come before the Lord, keeping your eyes on him when you don’t have a clue
about what to do.

 
The courage to lead in ministry is developed and shaped as we learn to live everyday with courage.
 

The courage
to depend on God when you don’t know what your future holds.

The courage
to depend on God when you feel anxious about about your job and it’s uncertainty.

The courage
to depend on God when you are nervous about your financial situation.

The courage
to depend on God when you are concerned about a family member.

 
The way
we prepare ourselves to lead with courage is to learn to live with courage
depending on God’s forever-presence each day. 

 
What about you?  What has been particularly helpful to you as you have faced anxious moments? 

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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7 thoughts on “The Courage to Both Live and Lead

  1. Thanks for this post, Jim: it was quite validating for me.  Spending the week with people of faith who are struggling and/or hurting, seeing them stumble and fall, knowing they need help to keep going – that is street-level. It’s not pretty, neat, or nice but it is where the substance of faith is to be found, if it is to be found at all.  It was especially validating, however, because of my own struggles and troubles. But to answer your question:  I don’t know that anything has been helpful in the sense that my anxiety/fear/worry about the future has been resolved.  Oh, I can do it in my head as well as anyone, but down in the street all the rationalizations and cliches get crushed under the weight of reality.  Thoughts are light and make for easy burdens, but reality is heavy. If anything has quieted my fears for a time, it is the knowledge that it is not only in this life that I have hoped  – which is a very good thing since I don’t have a lot of hope in this life.  But the stage on which we perform is set in heaven, not on earth, and the values and outcomes there are markedly different than what they appear to be here.  I cannot honest say with Paul that the present is but a "momentary, light affliction" but I do consider the "eternal weight of glory" something (however ethereal today) to be treasured and awaited.

  2. I like that phrase and your description. When I face those anxious moments, I’ve learned to lean on those who have a stronger faith. My wife is my #1 person on whom to lean. Hers just never seems to waver. Mine, on the other hand, on occasionally stabilizes.

  3. Jim,
    It would be tough to answer your question without adding to your comments.  You’ve covered it.  I just "Amen" and say that my experience agrees with your conclusions.  God wants to take the lead in our lives.  I’ve known that intellectually for a long time.  I’ve only recently come to actualize it.  I still have a long way to go, but with God becoming more and more real in my life, I’m not terribly afraid of anything anymore.  I’m not a courageous person.  It’s just hard to be afraid with the Creator of the universe dwelling in our souls.
    Ben

  4. Mike,Thanks very much for the candor/honesty.  You are so right.  "Street-level faith" is messy.  That is also the reality of the church.  Far too often, the church appears to be on another level.  For some people, life appears to nice, neat, and orderly–for now.  However, reality is far messier than that (as you suggest).  In spite of what we project sometimes as Christians, our lives are often quite messier than that.Thanks so much.