How can leaders grow in courage?

Elijah was intimidated by Jezebel. Timothy was intimidated by the elders in Ephesus. Peter was intimidated by a servant-girl. As long as a leader succumbs to timidity he or she will be ineffective and unable to complete his or her mandate from the Lord. Every leader in life – whether on the battlefield, in the courtroom or in the boardroom – needs to overcome timidity and take courage in the face of conflict.

Look at this short introductory video where De Waal Esterhuizen shares on ho to grow in leadership courage.

Scripture

Daniel 3 [selected verses]

1 King Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold… 6  [and declared that] whoever does not fall down and worship [the golden image] shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace.”

9  [Some Chaldeans] declared to King Nebuchadnezzar,  12  “There are certain Jews whom you have appointed over the affairs of the province of Babylon: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. These men, O king, pay no attention to you; they do not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”

14  Nebuchadnezzar answered and said to them, “Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the golden image that I have set up? 15  Now if you are ready when you hear the sound of [the musical instruments] to fall down and worship the image that I have made, well and good. But if you do not worship, you shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you out of my hands?”

16  Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. 17  If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. 18  But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”

19  Then Nebuchadnezzar was filled with fury, and the expression of his face was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He ordered the furnace heated seven times more than it was usually heated 20 …and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace… 22  Because the king’s order was urgent and the furnace overheated, the flame of the fire killed those men who took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. 23  And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell bound into the burning fiery furnace. 24  Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up in haste. He declared to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?” They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.” 25  He answered and said, “But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.” 26  Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the door of the burning fiery furnace; he declared, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out, and come here!” Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out from the fire. 27  And the satraps, the prefects, the governors, and the king’s counselors gathered together and saw that the fire had not had any power over the bodies of those men. The hair of their heads was not singed, their cloaks were not harmed, and no smell of fire had come upon them. 28  Nebuchadnezzar answered and said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel and delivered his servants, who trusted in him, and set aside the king’s command, and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God. 29  Therefore I make a decree: Any people, nation, or language that speaks anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego shall be torn limb from limb, and their houses laid in ruins, for there is no other god who is able to rescue in this way.” 30  Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the province of Babylon.

Observation and reflection questions

  1. What do you suspect did these three men felt when they were arrested and brought before the king?
  2. Why did the three men refuse to bow down to the golden image Nebuchadnezzar has set up? [verses 16-18]
  3. What is the reason why these three had to take courage? [hint: why did they not bow down…?]
  4. The three men were not alone in the fire. What does that suggest about their ability to be remain courageous? (verses 24-24)
  5. Look at verses 24-30 and note what was the effect of these three men’s courageous faithfulness to God on:
    1. The emperor Nebuchadnezzar:
    2. The civil servants working in and around the palace:
    3. The Babylonian empire:
    4. The Jews:
    5. The three men:
  6. What was the cost of these three men’s courage?
  7. What was the reward of these three men’s courage?

Personal reflection and prayer

Because Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego courageously refused to bow down to an idol the emperor threw into the fire, but the Lord Himself strengthened and preserved them in the fire. As result the king and his entire palace saw God’s power and a decree was written that God should be honored in the entire empire.

  1. Were you ever challenged to stand for what is right got flack for it? What was the challenge and what was the effect of that courage?
  2. What or who intimidates you? Why?
    1. Timidity usually leads to not standing up for what is right. What is the potential cost of this timidity?
    2. Confess your timidity to the Lord.
    3. Confess with Paul “God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (2 Timothy 1:7) [fear here means the “timidity”].
    4. Pray that God will fill you with the spirit of power and courage to stand up for what is right, and to represent the Lord well.
    5. Plan and prepare a response for this person or situation which usually intimidates you. It might be good to rehearse the response with a friend. Pray that the fear of God will be greater that the fear of man.

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