Courage = Perseverance + Integrity
What is courage?
One dictionary defines it as “the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear.”
I would agree with that definition if the last two words were removed: “Courage is the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc.”
Nelson Mandela affirms this perspective of courage. He writes, “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.”
Piers Anthony adds, “The one who feels no fear is a fool, and the one who lets fear rule him is a coward.”
I would suggest that a working definition of courage could be: “Courage is the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to persevere and maintain integrity amidst difficulty, danger, pain, etc.”
This is what I find in a man named Nehemiah, whose story is told in a book in the Bible that bears his name. Chapter 6 of this book tells of the plots and threats raised against him in the attempts of his enemies to kill him or to intimidate him. Four times his enemies try to lure him to an isolated location so they can take his life. A fifth time they try to shame him into meeting them in that isolated place by publishing a false report about him and offering to clear it up when he meets with them. When that tactic fails, they send word to him that others are coming to kill him and that he should hide in a portion of the temple where he is not permitted to go. Despite their plots, their threats, and their intimidation, Nehemiah perseveres in the work that God has called him to do, and he maintains his integrity, refusing to let fear drive him to do what would be wrong for him to do.
Nehemiah inspires me.
Too often I find myself giving up when I am afraid. But that’s not what I want to do. I want to be the kind of person who perseveres through fear.
Too often, when I am afraid, I find myself making excuses for compromising my morals. But that’s not what I want to do. I want to be the kind of person who maintains integrity in the midst of fear.
Ambrose Redmoon remarks, “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.”
That’s what I want. Even in the midst of fear, I want to value perseverance and integrity more highly than my fear.
An anonymous writer suggests, “Real courage is fear that has said its prayers.”
That, too, is what I want. In the midst of my fears I want to say my prayers so that God strengthens me to persevere amidst my fears and so that I maintain integrity.
A final anonymous quote: “Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.”
I have spent too much of my life shrinking in fear. I want my life to expand through the courage to persevere and to maintain integrity in the face of difficulty, danger, pain, etc.