“Good” courage versus “bad” courage


“Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord they God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.” KJV Joshua 1:9

We all know leaders need courage to lead; so, is there more than one kind?  In Joshua and Psalms, we understand that there is a “good” courage. Be ye of good courage and he shall strengthen your heart all ye that hope in the Lord. KJV. Psa 27:14. So, what does it mean to have “good” courage versus “bad” courage?

One word used to define courage in the bible is chazaq (Hebrew) which means to fasten upon, be strong, fortify, and seize. Another definition of courage is amats (Hebrew) to be alert. By implication, when we use courage, we assume some position of authority and the decision to act is made by us.  Furthermore, when we use courage, we recognize we are owners of the problem. We are an integral part of the solution and we usually have some degree of confidence in our ability to take action. We trust that the outcomes of our actions will be worth the risk.

So what’s the difference in “good” versus “bad” courage and how is this helpful or useful as leaders? “Good” or towb Hebrew) in the most general sense means to have favour. According to verses like Joshua 1:9 among others in the Old Testament, “good” courage is submissive in nature. It is patient, not impulsive or irresponsibly employed. It trusts in God’s sovereign authority and keeps our role for His people in mind. It is surgical and strategic in it’s effect. Tangible and Intangible results are immediate and long-standing with generational effect. It’s tough and unrelenting. It perseveres when challenged and the victory is evident and eternal. If you employ “good” courage, you can expect that others may say, “We will do as you say, and go where you want us to go” just like the people did in Joshua 1:16.

“Bad” courage knows how to fight. It’s usually our most convenient courage; always ready to be employed; but not necessarily our best weapon. It trusts in our previous experience, education, or accomplishments. It uses self-preservation and self-reputation as a gauge of success and has our role for our people in mind. Tangible results may be immediate but short-lived. Intangible results can be impossible to know. Like a ping-pong in a coin-operated machine, “bad” courage is labor-intensive and can be boundary-less as there is less control over any residual battles presented. If you employ “bad” courage, you can expect that others may say, “You are a survivor. You don’t give up easily.”

Although both types of courage, have differences in the ease of use, availability, and results; they both exact endurance, suffering, and sacrifice. God’s plan is that we choose “good” courage every time. He wants us to trust that He will preserve us and protect our reputation. When we make this choice, we live by faith. When we choose to use courage in our role to fortify and protect His people and His work, we will realize lasting results, not temporary ones. We cannot trust in our past experiences, other people, education, performance numbers, or capabilities as a source of courage. God is our source. Others will not see this as “good” courage right away. In fact, they may not realize it as courage at all until we are long gone. We have to be okay with that. Are you?


Thank you that you are all that we need. Thank you that we don’t have to stand on our own and that you provide courage when and where we need it.  Help us to recognize “good” courage in our work and at home and to avoid “bad” courage. Help us to see what it means to brave in You!

In your son Jesus, Amen.

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