My firstborn son is more timid and fearful than my other children. He is one that quickly backs down when the younger ones pick at him. Because of this, I have spent much effort trying to teach him to have courage. When I got back from Israel, I changed the way I taught him.
Most of us are familiar with the story of David & Goliath. You can read about it in I Samuel 17. It might be my boys’ favorite story in all of scripture.
In this story we meet Goliath, a giant Philistine who is taunting the people of God. Day after day Goliath stood shouting at the people of Israel, challenging them to a fight with dire consequences for the loser. All of Israel was afraid.
[This is the Valley of Elah, where David fought Goliath]
As I’ve shared this story with my boys, I’ve emphasized how Goliath didn’t love God. Goliath spoke poorly of God, and nobody would do anything about it. That is, until one little boy overheard the giant.
David was just that little boy. He had three older brothers that went to battle, but like Israel, they were scared stiff. One day when David was delivering bread and cheese to his brothers in battle, he overheard the giant’s words.
When David heard he asked, “For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God.” In this story, David never shows fear. He hears a giant blaspheming, and eventually runs quickly to kill him.
[We couldn't help but grab some rocks from the same riverbed where David might have picked up some rocks for his sling.]
David had every reason to be afraid. He was a young shepherd boy who was busy running back and forth from the battle back home to take care of his sheep. He was surrounded by an army of men who were scared to the point of inaction. Yet he wasn’t afraid.
My boys love the story because it is battle. They love grabbing their swords to fight or wrestling with me right afterward. Little did I know this story will change the way I teach my boys to be courageous.
I’ve tried to reason with my oldest before that he shouldn’t be afraid when younger kids pick at him. I’ve told him he is older, bigger, and very capable of defending himself. What I didn’t realize I was doing in the process was teaching him to put his faith in physical things.
David didn’t. David didn’t end up wearing the armor offered to him to fight the giant. David’s confidence came from somewhere else.
Here’s the great lesson for me while looking at the Valley of Elah in Israel:
Courage has nothing to do with age, experience or ability. It comes from faith in something bigger than me.
Instead of teaching my boys to be courageous while pointing to physical characteristics they possess, I will now seize the opportunity to teach them to draw their courage from God, who is strong. I hope that as I do, my faith will increase as well.
If you liked this post, check out Kevin's personal blog, Following to Lead, where he regularly writes on following, leading, fostering and family.
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About Kevin East
Kevin East is the Executive Director of Family Matters. He and his wife Stephanie have five unbelievable kids, two of which they most recently adopted. If Kevin isn't busy with work or family, you'll probably find him in the woods near his house with a power tool. He writes at his blog, "Following to Lead". Connect with him on Twitter at @kevinteast.
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