Today, I’d like to talk about courage.
If you want to fulfill your dreams, you’ve got to have courage.
Because what stands in between you and your dreams are your fears.
Read carefully: Your fears can either be a Wall and a Way.
For many people, fear is a Wall. When they smell fear, they run away. They give up their dreams.
For some people, fear is a Way. It’s a door to a whole new world of abundance and blessing. When they smell fear, they know that abundance is near. All they need to do is walk through the door of their fear.
Thank God For Fear!
Does being courageous mean not being afraid?
Not at all.
God gave us fear for a purpose. That purpose is to take us out of danger.
For example, I thank God I’m afraid of snakes. If I see a cobra in front of me, I won’t stand here and say Hi. I won’t go religious and pray in tongues and cast out the spirit of snakeness from the snake.
You’ll see me running away as fast as I can.
Thank God for fear.
But be careful with fear. Because when fear becomes overwhelming, it’ll control you. When it does, fear won’t only take you away from danger and death and destruction. It’ll take you away from your dreams too.
You’ve heard this many times. Courage is not the absence of fear. Courage is doing the right thing in the midst of fear.
When your heart is pounding. When your knees are shaking. When your sweat is dripping. And you do the right thing anyway. That’s courage.
Last week, I defined commitment as “Doing the hard stuff”.
Today, I define courage as “Doing it afraid”.
Unless you do it afraid, you’ll never achieve any success.
Perhaps you’ve failed in your business. Perhaps you’ve been rejected by people. Perhaps you’ve been booted out of your job. So right now, you’re afraid of being rejected again. My word to you? Do it afraid. Trust God and go out and try again. And believe that God has something great in store for you.
Are you single? Perhaps you’ve been hurt by a man before. Perhaps he used you, walked out on you, and chose someone else. Right now, you’re afraid of being hurt all over again. My word to you? Do it afraid. Learn from your mistakes. But trust in God and open your heart to the new person that He will give you.
Once upon a time, there was a woman who “did it afraid”…
How A Woman Saved A Nation
Let me tell you the story of Esther.
Esther was a beautiful Jewish woman who became the wife of the King of Persia. But Persia had a wicked Prime Minister named Haman who wanted to kill all the Jews. He was like an ancient Hitler who wanted to wipe them off the face of the earth.
The Jews’ only hope was Esther. She was the only one who could stop the massacre.
Married women might say, “Oh, that’s easy. All she has to do is tell her hubby to throw out the prime minister. Or it’s the couch for him tonight.”
It didn’t work that way 2500 years ago in ancient Persia.
They had this crazy law: It was a crime against Persian law for anyone to appear before the King uninvited. Even if you’re the queen. Anyone who does so will be executed.
But Esther was a woman of courage. She told the Jews to fast and pray for her. She said, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. If I must die for doing it, I will die. (Esther 4:16)
In fact, this was what almost happened. When the King saw Esther in front of him uninvited, he got very angry. But he took pity on her and asked her to come to him. When Esther told him about Haman’s evil plan, he had Haman executed—and the Jews were saved.
God says to you, Be determined and confident. Do not be afraid of them. (Deuteronomy 31:6)
What Are You Afraid Of?
Think about it.
The same person, the King of Persia, could execute her or save her people from annihilation. The King was both the source of her fear and also the source of her freedom.
Remember my lesson earlier: See your fear as a door. It’s not a Wall, but a Way. Walk through the door of your fear and you’ll walk towards your dreams. Everything that you want in life—happiness, friendship, abundance, blessings—is right after the door of fear.
Let me say it again. Esther didn’t get rid of her fear. She just did it afraid. She did the right thing even when she was still afraid.
But that’s the secret to overcoming fear and achieving great success. Esther’s love for her people was bigger than her fear. That’s why she faced the King of Persia at the risk of losing her life.
In the same way, make your love bigger than your fear—and you can do anything. You can reach your dreams.
When your fear is the biggest thing in your life, you get stuck. You don’t grow. You remain there for the rest of your life.
Do you feel as though nothing is happening in your career? In your spiritual life? In your relationships? Do you feel stuck?
Find something that’s bigger than your fear, and you’ll be able to walk through the door of fear.
What Is Bigger Than Your Fear?
In my preaching ministry, I had to “do it afraid” many times.
The first time I had to talk to 10,000 people at the Araneta Coliseum, I was afraid.
I was 16 years old. While waiting for my name to be called, I was literally shaking in my knees. My heart was pounding in my chest so loudly, I wondered if the people beside me were hearing it. “Uh, excuse me, those bongo drums you’re hearing is just my heart beating.” I was behind the big stage, awed at the massive audience around me.
I didn’t help that at 16, I looked like a malnourished refugee. I was so thin, if the fan blew in my direction, I had to hold on to something.
I asked myself, “What am I doing here? What was I thinking saying yes to give a talk to this humongous crowd? For crying out loud, I’m 16 years old. I have nothing to tell them!”
But I remember what I told myself that day. I said, “I’m here to love them, not impress them. Let them laugh at me. Let them boo me off the stage. It’s okay. I’m here to love them.”
My name was called. I stepped on stage. I did it afraid and loved them. Before I knew it, my fear was gone.
The secret to courage? Make your love bigger than your fear. Make your dream bigger than your fear. Make your God bigger than your fear.
That wasn’t the last time I did it afraid. There were many more occasions in my preaching ministry.
The first time I spoke to an international audience (it was in Canada), I did it afraid.
The first time I gave a talk to a roomful of Executives, I did it afraid.
The first time I gave a talk to roomful of Judges, I did it afraid. (They looked so stern. And none of them were laughing at my jokes! It was like they were, uh, judging me.)
The first time I gave a talk to a roomful of Bishops and Priests, I did it afraid. I asked myself, “What did I know that they didn’t know? Whatever I’ll tell, they already studied about during their 4 years in Philo and 4 years in Theo!”
But each time, I stepped on stage and told myself, “Yes, I’m afraid. But I’ll love them.”
Here’s what I noticed. God expanded my ministry to the degree I was willing to “do it afraid”.
It’s the same with all of life.
Your life will only grow in direct proportion to your willingness to “do it afraid”.
You can’t even follow God if you won’t do it afraid.
It Takes Guts To Be Good
Courage is the basic ingredient for any virtue.
Without courage, you can’t follow God.
It takes guts to be good.
Without courage, you can’t be loving, or loyal, or humble, or honest, or committed, or faithful…
Let me give you an analogy. If the different virtues are different flavors of ice cream, courage is the milk in the ice cream. You can’t have ice cream without milk. It’s in all flavors. In the same way, you can’t have virtue without courage. Courage is in all the virtues.
He Said, “I’ll Do It God’s Way”
My friend Tom was a Med Rep for a Pharma company. Tom told me that in his province, it was S.O.P. that Med Reps drank with the Doctors and gave them women.
In fact, his own Boss told him that he wouldn’t succeed in his job if he didn’t drink with the boys and offer girls to his clients.
Being the rookie in the job, he felt ashamed to decline. Even if in his conscience, he knew it was wrong.
So he went along with the drinking. He’d try to drink only two or three bottles at the most. And while his companions would take their bargirl to a motel, he’d just talk with the bargirl the entire evening.
But one day, he asked himself. “Am I more concerned about ‘loss of face’ or ‘loss of soul’?” Mustering enough courage, he went to his boss and said, “Sir, I won’t join you and the guys tonight. And I’ve decided I won’t be drinking and offering women to my clients anymore.” His boss was shocked. He asked, “Are you crazy? Why?”
He said, “I’m a Catholic.”
The Boss said, “I’m Catholic too. But this is our job.”
Tom said, “I’m a renewed Catholic. I can’t go against my faith.”
“Mark my words,” he told Tom sternly, “You’ll lose your job.”
Tom said, “Watch how God will work.”
The next day, Tom gave Kerygmamagazine to the Doctors. The next day, DidacheBible Guide. The next day,Companion Bible Journal. He also worked doubly hard.
Result? In three months, Tom became the top-selling, top-performing Med Rep in the entire region.
Simple Examples Of Courage
Without courage, you can’t even do something as basic as tithing. It takes courage to give 10% of your income to God each month. And then believe that God will stretch your money to meet your needs.
When I was earning P10,000 a month, I found it easy to give P1000 a month. But when I started earning P50,000 a month, I had to swallow hard when I put P5000 in my tithe envelope. I wasn’t used to giving P5000! Through the years, I kept tithing—and saw my income go up.
It takes courage to volunteer in a ministry, sacrifice your time—and believe that God will multiply your time.
It takes courage to disciple someone—loving the person until the person grows in his spiritual life.
It takes courage to die for someone.
It takes courage to live for someone…
Love Even If You’re Afraid
I love telling my favorite story of courage.
When I was 16 years old, I won a trip to Jerusalem from a Bible Quiz on national TV. Not the “Trip to Jerusalem” where kids circle around chairs. (That’s how Filipinos call the game “musical chairs”.) I really won a trip to Israel.
It was the first time I was going to travel, and I was going to travel all by myself for 41 days, visiting 20 cities all over Europe.
Obviously, as a 16 years old backpacker, I was scared and excited at the same time. My mother sewed a hidden pouch on my socks and inserted my dollars there. Because they were very few. Her instructions to me, “Don’t stay in hotels, stay in convents. Don’t eat in restaurants, buy your food and eat on park benches.”
My first stopover was Athens, Greece.
I sat in the airport, waiting for my flight to Israel, when a somewhat plumpish woman (okay, really plumpish woman) came walking towards me carrying two huge suitcases.
I ran to help out. I said, “Madame, can I help carry your things?”
She didn’t understand a word I said.
I knew a little Spanish, so I asked, “Puedo llevar tus cosas?”
She also didn’t understand.
Being charismatic, I was tempted to speak in tongues. But decided against it. Instead, I used the universal language.
I held up my hands as though I was carrying two suitcases.
Immediately, she understood. She handed me her suitcases, thinking perhaps I was a porter.
I then moved my hand like it were a plane, made the “whoooo” sound, and said, “Jerusalem.”
Her face lit up. She did the hand action of a plane, the “whoooo” sound of a plane, and said, “Jerusalem!” We were going to the same place.
We walked to the airline counter. I gave my ticket and the kindly gentleman gave me my boarding pass. I was ready to fly.
It was the woman’s turn. She handed her ticket with a smile. The man read her ticket, shook his head, and said, “I’m sorry Ma’am, this is an invalid ticket. You can’t ride this plane.”
“Lord, What Do You Want Me To Do?”
She couldn’t understand him.
They had to get a translator, what language I have no idea, to tell her that she had to buy a new ticket if she wanted to fly.
Tearfully, she told them that she had no money. And that this was a stop over for her too, so she was stranded. The man behind the counter raised their hands in surrender, telling her they couldn’t do anything about it.
She picked up her suitcases from me. She walked to a corner of the airport, sat down, and wept loudly.
I watched her from the distance. How could I leave her like this? But what could a 16 year old kid do?
So I prayed, “Lord, what do you want me to do?”
I learned that was a very dangerous question to ask. Don’t take it flippantly.
Because in my heart, I felt God tell me, “Buy her a ticket.” It was absolutely nuts! Didn’t He know that my dollars was in my socks?
I walked up to the counter guy and asked, “How much is a ticket to Israel?” He said, “$256”.
But I knew in my heart that I had to do it.
A Miracle Happens
I walked up to the weeping lady.
Through sign language, I told her I was going to buy her a ticket. (I tapped my back pocket and did my plane hand action again.) She understood me immediately. She literally jumped for joy and hugged me. I disappeared in her embrace.
Gently, I brought her down. I checked for broken bones and found none. We both walked to the counter.
“Sir,” I announced, “I’m buying a plane ticket for this lady.”
The man gasped. He asked, “Do you know her?”
“No, I don’t. I just met her here.”
He shook his head. “Are you rich?”
I smiled. “No. But my Father is rich!”
He didn’t want to sell me a ticket. He called his big boss. In a few minutes, the man marched in and they both argued our situation.
Finally, when our flight was about to go, I thought I heard the big boss sighed in exasperation and said, “Okay. Let the lady fly. But don’t let this stupid guy pay!”
I couldn’t believe it. They were letting her have a free ride. My dollars remained safely in my socks.
Both of us boarded the plane. We even sat beside each other and prayed together.
I was sixteen when this happened.
All through my life, there have been many times when I did it afraid. I believe it’s the secret to all of my breakthroughs.
My friend, do it afraid.
May your dreams come true,