In a pivotal moment in a movie most dads would probably rather not admit we’ve seen, the Prince of fictional Genovia has this advice for his daughter, the Princess (yes, as in Princess Diaries).
On her sixteenth birthday, her father writes these words:
“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear. The brave may not live forever, but the cautious do not live at all. From now on you’ll be traveling the road between who you think you are and who you can be. The key is to allow yourself to make the journey.”
Anne Hathaway’s journey to the Academy Awards notwithstanding, the Prince’s counsel is royally good.
Almost every girl dreams of becoming a princess and nearly every boy hopes to be a superhero. We all want to be part of a bigger story, something that matters. To do that doesn’t mean we need to be royalty or part of the Justice League, but it might require that we find some heroic qualities in our everyday lives.
That’s why I like the advice above. As a parent or a leader, this attitude is something that we need to cultivate in the hearts of our kids. Everything in their future is somewhat unpredictable. There will be moments they are uncertain about their choices, friends, health, and finances. Living can just be scary sometimes. We’re not asking our kids to never be afraid. We need to hand them a belief that fear can be conquered, and that the key to living is pushing through the difficult moments with courage to do the right thing, or in some cases to simply keep moving.
Like I said, we don’t have to be royalty to understand this. On the other hand, it doesn’t hurt either! Consider King David, who wrote this about courage in the face of fear: “When I am afraid, I will trust in You” (Psalm 56:3). He had plenty of reasons to be afraid. He wrote those words on the run, during the in-between time of strumming in Saul’s court and running from Saul’s spear. He wasn’t running to safety. He was running to trouble. To Gath. The Gath of Goliath. Whatever the opposite of a welcoming party is, that’s what awaited David.
In the midst of giants, he prayed this prayer to God: “When I am afraid, I will trust in You.”
David found courage in some unlikely places. In a few small stones. In a few loyal followers. In a faith in God that was stronger than any spear, stone or sword.
That’s why I think David was kind of like Batman. (Stay with me here….) Have you ever noticed that Batman doesn’t have any real superpowers? He’s got creativity, a fancy batsuit and that really cool car. He also has a courageous compassion for others.
David didn’t have the Batmobile, or any superpowers, but he had what mattered. He was just an ordinary person, who had the courage to trust his extraordinary God on the road between who he was and who he knew God wanted him to be.
What experiences have your kids faced where you have been able to clearly communicate the idea of courage in the face of fear?
For some practical ideas on teaching courage, our virtue of the month, read the newsfeed from Studio252 and watch the video below: