Most of us have gone through experiences that challenge us to display courage in our lives. It could come from watching a movie or television show, reading an inspiring book, spending time with a friend who is pursuing huge goals, or a conversation that renews our passion to attempt something we dream of doing. Whatever the reason this challenge creates a desire to do something courageous and we begin looking for chances to display it every day. But in most cases this search ends in frustration as we cannot find these opportunities and soon return to the safe confines of our comfort zone.
So is there a choice other than beating our desire for courage into submission and burying it under mountains of emotional dirt? Thankfully there is and it has to do with changing our perspective or what we look for. Instead of searching for massive opportunities each day like what we read about in the book, The Tipping Point principle (introduced by Malcolm Gladwell) states that small decisions or choices can make a huge impact upon life. Just like tipping over the first domino in a long line of them sparks a chain reaction, certain decisions can put things in motion that will bring massive change into our lives. Most of us don’t look for the tipping points of courage because they rarely bring immediate results or their impact cannot be seen. But months or years later those small seemingly insignificant decisions will be viewed as a turning point in our lives.
Looking back on the last five years serving in Melbourne Australia I can clearly see the turning point in my ministry. It involved moving from an area on the outskirts of the city to a growing suburb which was closer to the Church I would begin working with. This was a huge leap of faith of course but the tipping point had come a few months before the actual move when I realized living in the original area was keeping me from serving the Lord effectively (the Church where I ministered was almost an hour away). So on a warm afternoon in December I walked into my backyard, confessed to the Lord that being comfortable was in many ways more important to me than serving Him, and started preparing for the move that would come two months later.
That act of confession and packing boxes had a huge impact upon my future ministry. Today I live in one of the fastest growing suburbs of Melbourne and am less than five minutes from the Church where God has called me as Pastor. I am volunteering twice a week at an elementary school that ministers to children from an area filled with poverty, crime, broken families, and violence. Twice a week I have an opportunity to teach religious education classes in the public school system and share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Lord has also allowed me to begin teaching English as a second language to a young man from India and there is an opportunity to begin teaching other students later this year. These and other wonderful blessings from God have come into my life as I rely on Him, but would never be experienced if I hadn’t moved from the original rental property.
Most of the time the power of these tipping points aren’t realised until later, I moved in 2008 and began experiencing the results two years later. This is why so many of us seek for massive opportunities instead of the small choices that display our Faith in God. But those huge displays of courage we read about in books, see in movies, or hear about from others don’t come every day…..they are experienced once or twice a year, sometimes once in a lifetime. And its the small tipping points of courage that prepare us for those huge challenges just like training at the gym prepares us for a race or playing a sport. I can’t expect to never visit the gym or train then show up and run a 5k race, in the same way we cannot expect to show courage when God calls us to display radical faith if we aren’t faithful in taking small steps of courage.
It would be great if we could go to the local drug store and buy courage tablets that give an immediate infusion of confidence when facing fear. But there are no shortcuts to displaying strength in those moments of crisis, it can only be developed as every day we faithfully look for that tipping point of courage the Lord has placed in our lives.