Leon Fontaine - Intentional Courage
In my studies of leadership and I love the topic of leadership. I found a word that has changed. It's the word virtue. In our world, it means, you know, I want to hang on to my daughters' virtue. I will lock them up in their bedroom. Don't let them date anybody. And, you know, it's kind of where we use that word virtue. But that's not how it was used in the ancient world. And it is a profound look at how we should live our lives because virtue was when you look at someone and you said they were virtuous. You look at somebody and said, "Wow, that's virtue". It, they weren't talking about just that. They were talking about excellence.
Excellence spiritually, excellence morally, excellence physically, excellence in leadership, excellence in every area. And whenever they talked about this virtue, there was always four things that would be included in it. Courage, temperance, justice, and wisdom. These four are talked about all through Christianity, all through the Old Testament, and many other religions. Courage is crucial like temperance. What is, well, courage is bravery. It's fortitude. It's honour. It's a sacrifice. It's courage. But then there's temperance. We don't use that word anymore. Just means, you know, drink a little less. No, it means self-control, moderation, composure, balance as a dad, a mom, a leader, a business person.
You know, then justice. Well, justice is fairness for all. Justice is serving one another, fellowshipping one other, goodness, kindness. Wisdom. Wisdom is knowledge, education, truth. Wisdom is self-reflection and peace. These are the words. This is how they would explain these four words that come under this thing, a virtue. A virtuous person. It's not male nor female. It just is. Doing the right things always takes courage. Everything that you're going to do that's right, you're going to have someone who's going to come against you. And we live in a world that goes, "I want everyone to like me". Good luck. Doing the right things always takes courage. And what good is courage, if it's not applied to justice.
These four are a phenomenal grouping. What good is wisdom, if it doesn't help make us modest. What good is discipline, if wisdom doesn't show us what paths to be disciplined in. These four words under virtue are a stunning look at how we should live all through the Word of God. These things are raised up. You'll find them in the fruits of the Spirit. You'll find them over here as they talk about what to add to your faith. It is in the Old Testament you will find these four things show us a great leader. It's not just a courageous leader. People can have courage and just be stupid. Courage needs wisdom. And as you rise up into leadership, it needs moderation. It needs control and balance. When so many leaders just every pleasure they can get their hands on, they will. And to control and have a throne becomes more important than the serving of the people. It is this word virtue needs to be reawakened in leaders and in your life, in my life.
We need to look at these and go, "Okay, if you could take these four and recognize this is what virtuous living looks like. I'm telling you. You are going to live an amazing life. We become harpists by practicing the harp. We become trumpet players by practicing the trumpet. We become builders by building. And we become courageous by practicing courage every day. We become temperate by controlling ourselves every day. We become wise by seeking out wisdom in every area of our lives. But today we think that a person who is a hero is a one time in a lifetime. You know, his moment was there". I agree. There will be moments in your life where your courage to make a decision to stand up or sit down, to say no, to speak up, to side with someone that's going to cost you. That you were created for such a time as this.
But when we take this thought too far, then we all think, live the way you want and one day courage will kind of explode. No. Courage is developed day after day after day. What made David get up and face off Goliath was the fact he practiced courage out there. He looked after his dad's sheep and for his dad he was serving. And when that lion came up, he killed them. When that bear came up, he destroyed it. He chased them down and saved the sheep. He was practicing courage every day by worshiping God, getting to know God. But when situations arose, he wasn't just courageous when he faced Goliath. There was a daily working of courage. And if the church of Jesus Christ, you know, decades ago, centuries ago, would have stood up and been courageous in sharing our faith, would have been courageous in backing the hurting and the marginalize and rolling them up on our arms and including.
If we have been bold enough to get up and speak up for the Jesus that we love, we would have a nation that recognizes Christ. But instead the way religion has been brought up has turned so many people off. There needs to be a rediscovery of what the true church looks like. A spirit contemporary group of people that love, that rise up and do great things for God. So this virtue, it's not a singular event. It's not just something you maybe will do. It is a daily challenge. And when you live with moderation and in control and well-balanced, and you listen to wisdom and you really rise up say, "This is going to take courage but I'm going to do it".
When we live this way, it's just something begins to get into your kids. Your kids don't do what you say. Your kids do what you do. You transfer to your kids not your knowledge base but your attitude towards every issue of life. Your attitude towards sex, towards bravery. Your attitude to stand up and be counted. These things are passed down generationally. And when we're gone, and our kids and our grandkids have to stand up and fight the battles. We refused to fight because we're cowards? Not on my watch. No way. I'm not going to be pressured to back down from things that are evil. Leo Tolstoy says there is no deed in this life so impossible that you can't do it. Your whole life should be lived as one heroic deed. Live with a sense of bravery. And you're going to raise kids this world's going to stand in awe of. Education is everywhere. We have ministry into our jails. But I'll tell you, without Jesus, all we get is educated criminals who get better at what they do. Like, we have forgotten that God knows what He's doing.
We want to stick with what is safe. It's kind of, "Me, heroic? I mean, that just seems so egotistical, preposterous. I mean, we'll leave it to someone else more qualified, more trained, with less to lose". I mean, it's understandable. It could even logical. But those people never rise up. Look at history. It's people who go as, "If no one 's going to do it, I've already drawn a line in the sand. I'm going to share my hope, my faith. I'm going to get up and say something about the hurting and the marginalized and those being taken advantage of or lied to or being censored. It's not going to happen around me. I want to be a part of the love of God that brings truth to people".
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, that famous Russian said that from ancient times he has seen a decline in courage, is considered the first symptom of the end. Notice what he didn't say. He didn't say an enemy so big, an enemy so financed, an enemy so wicked, an enemy so evil. He did not say an enemy that's covered every base. There's nothing left to do. None of those things. Just courage. Where there is courage, you attract the presence of God. God is attracted to courageous movement. We call it faith. Faith is not this little, "Well, we just believe". No, you're not. Faith is something that made the early church bold. It made them rise up and say things. In Acts 4:25 and on, is a situation where they're being beaten and whipped because they're not in agreement.
And so then they said, "Lord, take note of the threats of the people around us". They're saying God take note of what's going on. Why? Because God gets involved in the threats and the push against us and grant that we your bond-servants will speak your Word boldly. This is the key to everything in life. This is the key to raising kids and families and cities and provinces and nations. This is the key that people rise up and speak truth even when it's not acceptable, even when people will blog about you, even when people will back away from you. Every courageous thing ever done in the history of the world had a peanut gallery saying, "Don't do it. Don 't you do it". Family member, Jesus Himself said there will be times in your life where the family will be divided about standing for truth. He's not telling you to divide. He's just saying don't let things silence us.
History has been written by the blood, sweat, and tears. It is etched into eternity by people who stood up and just said I'm going to just speak up, or I'm going sit down on the wrong seat, or I'm going to fight. I'm going to risk. I'm going to speak. I'm going to try. I'm going to conquer my fears. I'm going to act with courage. It's, they literally were just ordinary people. Courage is calling to every one of us, not for a onetime event but for a daily living that sparks your kids, sparks your friends, sparks the people around you to rise up. I don't know what you're hearing right now and I don't know what's going on in your world but listen to me. It can be an ugly world. It can be. But courage is beautiful, and it is courage that allows beautiful things to exist. It's courage.
So let family exist. It's courage. Let freedom exist. It's coverage that allows temperance and wisdom to exist and beautiful things from houses and ways to live. All of these things exist because of courageous people speaking up. What forces prevent courage? Why is it that if courage, this virtue I'm talking about. Now, when I say courage or virtue, I'm add to it wisdom. I'm adding to it justice and I'm adding to it temperance. What is it that makes it so rare? Why when you, I ask you. Do you know any heroes? Do you know any courageous people? We kind of just go, "Gosh, golly, shucks, gee. I mean. Well, you know". No. They should be all of us in everyday of our lives. Living for Christ, walking the path He's prepared ahead of time, sharing the hope of the future. The biblical truths of God's Word.
So we are in a battle against fear. You know what's interesting? The Spartans. Some of you guys like these, some of these movies like "The 300" and all. When you look at the Spartans, they built a temple to fear. I kind of go, "What in the world"? You know their reasoning was, keep fear obviously amongst us. So that when our men go to war to protect, so that when we try to build a country that others are coming against. That we recognize that that temple of the fear. It doesn't mean they worshipped fear. It doesn't mean that they wanted fear. They want to always be aware of its insidious creeping into your mind, or slapping you brutally across the face with one instance of woah! And they didn't want their men reverting to fear. They didn't want them moving in and allowing it to just this insidious creep into your spirit.
They want to remember fear. Fear is our enemy. It's something that kept the Spartans alive and the amazing group of fighting people that they were. Now, it's not just fear that we have to look out to. In fact, the people of old back there. The Hebrews and the Greeks and the different groups. They would tell you. They did not see fear as the opposite of courage. They didn't? No. Well, what did they see as the opposite of courage? Apathy. Oh, well. Throw up your hands and say, "Come on. Take a look at it. Get realistic, Leon. I mean, this is the new world". That's what courage has to fight. This apathetic throw your hands in the air. Don't talk about it. You get relegated to the side. Get it relegated over here.
Today each of us receives our own call to service, to take a risk, to challenge the status quo, to rise above our station, to do, to do what people say is impossible. There will be many reasons why this will feel like the wrong thing to do. Because we all have this naive thought, "If you do what's right, everybody will love you and celebrate you. If you do what's wrong, everybody knows it's wrong". Actually in my world so far, I have found the opposite. The things that I have sensed and known and seen and researched and said, "I plant a stake in the ground on this". People always left me at those times. Why do we live in a world that faceless people that you don't know and you don't know if they're wise or not. This faceless group of whatever social media, or people getting out there your decisions.
Why are we so afraid of this faceless group of people, who don't have enough courage to stand up themselves but attack anybody with a great principle or an opinion and lower him down? I'll tell you why. People like finding faults with courageous people. They like finding fault. Do you know why? It makes them feel okay in their apathetic way of just floating downstream. Any dead fish can float downstream. But if you want to go upstream, it's going to require effort. And so this apathy, this fear that you will never get away from. Be not afraid is one of the most used phrases in the Bible. And we all thought it was just a cute thing a daddy says to his kids, Father God. Or is it the God of the universe saying, "You can't make anything work when you're in fear. You can't raise up families and marriages and kids. You can't raise up villages and towns and cities. You can't raise up provinces and countries and nations. If you allow fear to make your decisions".
You've been given an armour. Why were you given armour? You know, if four of you I hired today, and you came up onstage. We welcomed you and I handed one a hammer. Then I handed one a lawnmower. And then I handed another one a full suit of armour. The tools you've been given are a key to what you'll do. God's given you as a believer armour. Why? 'Cause you're going to be attacked. Just get used to it. All great people in any walk of life without Christ had to recognize that. And so the world is not who were trying to please. It's who we're trying to reach. It's not their opinion that we consider so crucial. It's the principles of God's Word. And He'll help us to be spirit contemporary.
So my challenge to you today is to recognize that the Bible teaches us the antidote for fear. It teaches us that we'll not have the spirit of fear. But of power and of love and of a sound mind. Power. This power, you know, that strengthens you on the inside, the prayer in Ephesians 3 says. And so when we've got a spirit of power that is just ready to flow out of you. We got a spirit of love. What would you die for? I've told this story so many times but I remember when Zack was just a little guy. And we were standing on one of the bridges here in Winnipeg and the ice had just broken. And only us Canadians know what that looks like on a river when the ice begins to break and sweep everything down and ice flows are grinding together. And so him and I were going for a walk together. And he does something that scared me so bad. He grabs the rail with his little strength and he jumps up, puts it against his stomach and hops over to look straight down.
Well, you know, how quickly you can flip. And so I literally gave out a howler, reached out and grabbed him and pulled him down and explained to him what just had happened. And my heart's going a 100 miles an hour. And as I'm sitting there, him and I just finishing at our day. What's going through the river, the ice, and different things. This thought came to me. If he went into the river, there's just no hope. You can't swim. You can get drowned between these ice flows. It's so cold. You might have 60 seconds of act of muscle function maybe. What I do? And I stood there and thought about it. It was a God moment for me. And I thought I'd jump in after.
I thought, "Well, why? You can't save him. You're just giving up your life. I just don't want him to die alone. What was I doing"? I was thinking about love. Love is the most powerful motivational force in the world. A mum petrified of snakes, phobias of snakes. That literally would tremble when she sees a snake. But opening the door of her nursery and seeing a snake slithering across the floor and up the, the feet of that crib. That is one dead snake guaranteed. Every mama on the planet is going to chew its head off with its teeth. Because love has an ability to ram fear down so hard when something you love rises above something you fear. When fear grips you, ask yourself, is there something that you love more that you should rise up within this thing?
We were all created for such a time as this. Did you know that you are in this year today because there's something that needs to be delivered into your surroundings. You say, "Well, come on, Leon. I'm not". No, listen. You could have been born 4.000 years ago, 3.239 years ago. Like, how many thousands of years, how many decades, how many centuries have gone by on this planet and you're born today. Why? Because there's giftedness. There's courage. There's things in you that need to come out of you as you serve Him. It could be art. It could be in business. It could be in politics. It could be bringing love to so many hurting and needy people.
All of us have something to contribute. But it's going to take a virtuous person. The old term virtue. The courage, the temperance. It's going to take a sense of justice and fairness. It's going to take the wisdom to not just be courageous and pursue a dumb path. Let's pursue wisdom's path. And as we do, we're going find out that all giants fall, all storms blow out. That it's a history of the human race. That when things rise up, whether for you, it's the virus, or whether for you, it is socialism. Whatever is going on in your world right now that you're thinking yourself clear from. Recognize that not only has He given you a spirit of power, and a spirit of love, but of a sound mind. I've never seen so many people emotionally becoming disconnected and fraying at the edges in their marriages, teenagers, 5-year olds. What's going on?
I know that depending upon what's going on around us. But the Word says that you can have a sound mind. Wow, what is a sound mind? It's a mind like Jesus Christ filled with His emotions, His courage, His joy. He said the joy of the Lord is your strength. If you want to create a whole new home or a whole new business, create joy. Get a laughter back in there. It does like good like a medicine. Get up and declare in your prayer time that Jesus reigns. That His Word wins. That people are special and precious and they're going to rise up again. And we're going to see a bright, amazing, glorious, amazing future. So don't become inactive. Just every day, today, what can you do that's encouraging to others? Courageous. What do you need to do? This one just kind of working on you on the inside. And let's speak up. The greatest adventure of your lifetime is just ahead.