How to Lead with Courage: A Lesson from the Cowardly Lion

A favorite childhood memory is sitting with my sister in our pajamas curled up with our blankets and watching our favorite characters in the classic movie, The Wizard of Oz.

The Cowardly Lion was faced with the greatest challenge of his life in the forest he had lived comfortably for so long. By his own confession he was a great coward and this was his moment to shine. He was asked by his traveling companions, the Tin Man and Scarecrow to risk life and limb to rescue Dorothy and her dog Toto who had been captured by the awful wicked witch of the West. He told them sheepishly with a burst of courage, All right, I’d go in there for Dorothy. Wicked Witch or no Wicked Witch, guards or no guards, I’ll tear them apart. I may not come out alive, but I’m going in there. There’s only one thing I want you fellows to do. His friends replied, What’s that? To which the Lion said, Talk me out of it.

Can you relate? Once you have had a burst of courage to do the impossible, have you asked God or your friends to talk you out of it? When is the proper timing to blast through looking fear in the face as a leader to accomplish what God might be asking? Is it waiting until everything falls into place? Is it shouting from the forest and engaging others to do the job for you? How do we know when and where to move ahead? Are there just some people who are born with guts and determination?

Eleanor Roosevelt once said, You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along’ You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.

I would like to add that you must do the thing that you know you cannot do apart from God’s amazing strength. That is the pre-requisite, to do what you know you can’t possibly do, that my friends is real courage.

The Bible is full of examples of cowardly lions just like you and me who looked fear in the face and acted with God infused courage. I have a feeling if we wait for courage it will never come. But like the Cowardly Lion discovered, he did have courage when he acted on his fear.

I have to admit, I have been the Cowardly Lion too many times to mention.

I’ve prayed for courage.

Instead of gaining courage God says move.

Take a step.

I am with you.

Trust me.

My motto is this, don’t wait for the fear to go away, do it afraid. That is courage in all its glory.

Adapted from an excerpt from my book Unlocked: 5 Myths Holding Your Influence Captive, New Hope Publishers 2013 

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