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.


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.

Leadership requires courage

There is not a leader in the Bible who succeeded without the courage to risk what is unknown or dangerous. 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 courage in leadership ( )


Joshua 1:1-9

1  After the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, it came to pass that the LORD spoke to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, saying: 2  “Moses My servant is dead. Now therefore, arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them–the children of Israel. 3  Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given you, as I said to Moses. 4  From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the River Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your territory. 5  No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you. 6  Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. 7  Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go. 8  This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. 9  Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”

Observation and reflection questions

Context: After leading Israel through the wilderness for 40 years Moses died and the Lord called Joshua to lead the Hebrews across the Jordan River to take possession of the Promised Land.  Joshua was one of the ten spies that scouted the land, so he knew exactly what they would face.

  1. What do you suspect was Joshua’s emotional response to the realization that Moses died and he had to lead the people? Why did the Lord reportedly tell him to take courage?
  2. What is the reason why Joshua had to take courage? [hint: what was his mandate form the Lord?]
  3. What does “The Law [of] Moses” or “The Book of the Law” refer to? (verses 7-8)
    1. What is type of writings are contained in This “Book” or “Law” which Joshua had? [hint: look in the first five books of your Bible]
    2. How would “The Book of the Law” help Joshua to be courageous? [Hint: considering your answer to the above]
  4. Apart from “The Book of the Law”, what else does the Lord assure Joshua with to help him be courageous? (verses 5 and 9)
  5. Regarding the nature of courage: what is implied in the repeated command to “Be strong and courageous!”

Personal reflection and application questions

Joshua knew exactly what they would face when they would cross the Jordan and face the inhabitants of the land, yet the Lord called him to not give in to fear but to be courageous to fulfill his mandate. He would find courage as he looked into the mighty acts and commands of God which Moses recorded (Genesis through Deuteronomy), but mostly in the comforting knowledge of the presence of the Lord. But in the end, Joshua had to choose to be courageous.

  1. Can you recall an instance in your life when you had to choose between succumbing to fear or being courageous? What was the circumstance and why did you respond that way?
  2. In which aspects of your life are you prone to being courageous? Why?
  3. In which aspects of your life are you prone to being timid? Why?
  4. Consider your current situation. For what cause must you show courage? How will you do it?


Thank God for his faithfulness, for all the times he has preserved and delivered you in the past.  Pray that you may know God and the power of his resurrection, that your heart may be strong.



The Character of a Leader: being candid, authentic

A Barna Group study revealed that non-Christians American primarily associate Christians with the word “hypocrite”.  Truly, there is a dire need for vulnerability and authenticity in the church – especially among leaders.  After all – nothing ruins trust in a leader as the discovery that he or she is a fake.

Before starting with today’s devotional leadership study, look at this inspirational talk by Dr Dale Cilliers on the need for leaders to be candid (real, authentic, truthful). []


Luke 12:1-3

1  In the meantime, when so many thousands of the people had gathered together that they were trampling one another, he began to say to his disciples first, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.  2  Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known.  3  Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops.

Observation and refection questions

Context: Jesus and his disciples just had dinner in the house of a Pharisee and the crowds gathered in and around the house to hear him speak.

  1. When would someone usually be labeled as a hypocrite? From your knowledge of the Bible, why did Jesus call the Pharisees “hypocrites”?
  2. Note whom Jesus addresed in this conversation (verse 1).  Could you think of someone among Jesus’ disciples whom might have rightfully been called a hypocrite?  Why would you say this?
  3. Jesus referred to hypocrisy as “leaven”; what is leaven, and how is hypocrisy similar to it? How do you understand this metaphor then?
  4. How are verses 2 and 3 related to the “Beware…”-statement of Jesus?

Personal reflection and Application

The Pharisees were devoted to the literal observance of Moses’ Law and traditions of the elders.  Yet Jesus repeatedly referred to them as “hypocrites” or actors – pretending to be morally upright and religiously observant but only as long as people see them.

  1. Which aspect of your life if “brought to light” or “proclaimed from the housetops” (especially in your local church) would cause your much shame?
    1. What are the effects of leading publically with pretense while struggling with a private weakness or sin? What have you experienced?  Think and reflect.
    2. Write your private flaws on a piece of paper. Then read it to the Lord, as though he is sitting in front of you.  Confess the sin and ask for mercy for forgiveness and grace for overcoming the temptation (1 John 1:7-9; Hebrews 4:16).
    3. Next, overcome the shame of hypocrisy by telling a mature Christian friend whom you trust. Commit to be transparent and accountable with him/her weekly about this. Take their counsel in the matter!
  2. Name the great Biblical leaders whose flaws were well recorded. What do you learn form that?
    1. How can you still lead in authenticity and truth while being weak in a specific area?


Pray for the grace to live a humble and honest life as a leader, safeguarded in true friendships where you can be absolutely honest about your struggles and flaws.  Ask God for grace to lead and live with authenticity while growing in holiness.


Reference: Kinneman, unChristian, Barna Group, 2007

True leaders lead by compulsion

Leadership is not a philosophy – leadership is action. And you don’t need a title to be a leader – you simply need to lead by taking action!

Before reflecting on today’s devotional text, take a moment to watch this short introductory video on Leadership as Compulsion (


Numbers 25:1-15

1  While Israel lived in Shittim, the people began to whore with the daughters of Moab. 2  These invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and bowed down to their gods. 3  So Israel yoked himself to Baal of Peor. And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel. 4  And the LORD said to Moses, “Take all the chiefs of the people and hang them in the sun before the LORD, that the fierce anger of the LORD may turn away from Israel.” 5  And Moses said to the judges of Israel, “Each of you kill those of his men who have yoked themselves to Baal of Peor.”

6  And behold, one of the people of Israel came and brought a Midianite woman to his family, in the sight of Moses and in the sight of the whole congregation of the people of Israel, while they were weeping in the entrance of the tent of meeting. 7  When Phinehas the son of Eleazar, son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he rose and left the congregation and took a spear in his hand 8  and went after the man of Israel into the chamber and pierced both of them, the man of Israel and the woman through her belly. Thus the plague on the people of Israel was stopped.  9  Nevertheless, those who died by the plague were twenty-four thousand.

10  And the LORD said to Moses, 11  “Phinehas the son of Eleazar, son of Aaron the priest, has turned back my wrath from the people of Israel, in that he was jealous with my jealousy among them, so that I did not consume the people of Israel in my jealousy. 12  Therefore say, ‘Behold, I give to him my covenant of peace, 13  and it shall be to him and to his descendants after him the covenant of a perpetual priesthood, because he was jealous for his God and made atonement for the people of Israel.'” 14  The name of the slain man of Israel, who was killed with the Midianite woman, was Zimri the son of Salu, chief of a father’s house belonging to the Simeonites. 15  And the name of the Midianite woman who was killed was Cozbi the daughter of Zur, who was the tribal head of a father’s house in Midian.

Observation and reflection questions

  1. Let’s review the incident by briefly answering the following questions:
    • Moses called the nation to the Tabernacle of God (or “tent of meeting”) – why? [verses 1-3]
    • To whom did Moses give the instruction to execute these promiscuous offenders? [verse 5]
    • What did Zimri do and why was it so offensive – especially in the sight of the repenting assembly? [verse 6]
    • The whole nation saw what was happening but only one man responded. Who was he, what was his vocation/office and what action did he take? [verse 7-8]
    • Phinehas took descisive action.  How did God respond to the nation and how did God reward Phinehas? [verses 8, 10-13]
  2. The whole nation gathered and heard the command of the Lord regarding sexual promiscuity with the idol-worshiping people locals. Everyone saw Zimri’s bold contemptuous action, but only Phinehas had the courage to act.
    • Based on your experience with people, why do you think no-one else took action?
    • Based on Moses command earlier, who would you think should have taken action first?
    • Who was the true leader in this story?

Personal reflection and application

The nation of God was in a bad shape morally, resulting in a plague.  Moses called the nation to repent and reform, but at that moment a man showed contempt to God at the hight of the nation’s remorse.  None of the leaders dared move, but a young priest felt compelled to take decisive action, bringing an end to the plague and earning God’s reward for it.

  1. Based on past situations…
    • …would you be more inclined to step in and do what is necessary, or would you hope someone else does it first?
    • …would you be more inclined to confront someone who does something blatantly wrong or would you look away and hope someone else does that?
    • …would you be more inclined to wait for someone else to initiate a conversation in a difficult relationship, or would you initiate that conversation?
    • …what caused you to hesitate from taking decisive action in critical situations? [think it through, pray that the Lord help you see your motives]
  2. Memorize Peter’s instruction to “add to your faith courage…” (2 Peter 1:5).
    1. Commit in prayer today to not fear failure or ridicule, but courageously stand up for what is right.
    2. Keep this phrase in mind throughout the day; let it reveal your motives and let it stir you to decisive action for what is right and good.