5th Essential Quality of Leadership

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-images-boy-binoculars-image20584569{Courage} Training Boys to be Future Leaders, Part 6

Courage is…

  1. Oswald Sanders provides an insightful definition. Courage is “that quality of mind which enables men to encounter danger or difficulty with firmness, or without fear or depression of spirits.”

Fail Forward.

No, that’s not a typo. Sometimes, instead of failing and falling backward, your boy needs to fall, or rather, fail forward. It’s a mindset—a positive spin on what’s commonly seen as a negative result. Look for progress. Most failure is not final.

Boys tend to be natural explorers with their mind, heart, body, or soul. But you can tell when a boy is being timid or fearful about something he needs to do. One thing a parent can do—properly support your boy when he experiences failure.

From the earliest age, help your son learn how to deal with fear of failure and experience your support and guidance. Support does not mean reducing standards—they exist and must be met. And I’m not talking about foolhardy dangers or tasks inappropriate for the age and maturity of the boy. But at every age and level of life, there is risk and fear of failure. Help your boy to recognize fear that must be mastered.

Failure’s Results.

What happens inside a boy when he fails? He can be crushed in defeat, fear bad results if he does the task again, or feel challenged to do better. The challenged boy determines why he failed, using that knowledge as a stepping-stone to get better results the next time. The parents’ support can foster this challenge-response in their boy.

As we discussed last month, if your son’s foundation has been built on Jesus Christ over the years, then he can see his failure as something that can be overcome—a lesson to understand instead of fear. Your boy will have hope. He will know the power of the Holy Spirit can work in and through him to accomplish the task (2 Timothy 1:7). He will learn that he can do all things through Christ who strengthens him (Philippians 4:13).

If the foundation is worldly, without spiritual basis, the young man might become sorrowful or angry and turn that negative emotion against those supporting him. Because he has no understanding of a loving Father above who cares about him in whatever situation he faces, he may feel alone, unprotected, or helpless to fix the problem. This can turn into feelings of inadequacy or low self-esteem.

Courage Starts Small.

One way to overcome fear and build courage is by giving responsibility and enforcing consequences for standards set at home. Then, when the unexpected happens, your boy will have a good background for a courageous response.

Responsibility for completion of a task is an important lesson to learn in life. Teach and train it as early as possible. Start with household chores. Teach your son how to handle and use money wisely. Train him how to create trust by giving him the opportunity to prove he can be trusted.

Enforce the standards set for each task delegated. Remember to support, but not do the work required for the task. If you have to do the work, then either the task is not age-appropriate, the standards are too high, or you may not be applying the consequences well. In the end, your son will gain confidence with each responsibility he masters.


            Train your child to take control of their fears and really evaluate what they might see as danger. Speaking in public, being part of a sports team, or riding a bicycle are small examples. These turn into more difficult situations like racing a sailboat, extreme sports, state-level chess matches, competitions, contests, or making good relationships with girls.

Each child is different and the parents must determine where their child needs support and where they need to try on their own. They must educate, train and help the boy see the steps to success. Parents may need outside advice in the form of books, friends or experts to know when to step back and when to support the boy as he encounters more difficult or dangerous situations.

Respond—Don’t React.

When you’ve trained your child on various standards, also train them how to respond when events, circumstances, or people go sour. Teach them to respond, not react.

A reaction is a simple action to combat something that impacts you. Reactions are fast, hard to hide, and are sometimes difficult to control.

A response is not immediate, takes place over time, and involves thinking through the situation to find the best course of action in the time allowed.

A boy, when he is young, will often react, not respond. There is no thought involved, unless it’s centered on them. We, as parents, have to train them to care about others as much or more than he cares about himself.

Give your boy examples of how people responded, instead of reacted, to their situation. Talk through historical examples of what people did when things went bad. Martin Luther is a good example. J. Oswald Sanders, in his book Spiritual Leadership, talks about Martin Luther facing death as he began his journey to Worms, to face the emperor. Martin Luther said, “You can expect from me everything save fear or recantation. I shall not flee, much less recant.”

Support your boy as he learns to respond, not react. When he becomes a man, as a good leader he will respond in faith to overcome his fear when handed desperate circumstances.

Next Month

How does humility fit into the top seven leadership essentials?

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