What Is Bravery?

Think of the word Brave or Bravery. What images does your mind conjure? If you were asking me, my mind instantly races to:

  • The 17-year old from World War 2 who stormed the beach in Normandy
  • The mother who sacrificed herself to save her baby after crashing her car into a pond
  • The pastor who takes to the pulpit and shares a challenging truth with his congregation knowing he will lose people from his church
  • Desmond Doss going back again and again to save his fellow soldiers on Hacksaw Ridge.
  • The teens who were on their way to their prom but stopped to help those involved in a car accident
man wearing green crew-neck t-shirt looking upwards

Photo by Jakob Owens

The dictionary defines bravery as

courageous behavior or character.

The examples above definitely describe bravery. These men and women did something that wouldn’t benefit themselves and could have caused them harm to help someone else. They saw a need and they took action despite what it could cost them.

THAT is bravery.

We’ve Twisted Bravery

We’ve begun to twist what bravery means. We hear people telling us to be brave over things we don’t need bravery for.

You are told to be brave when:

  • You go to the dentist
  • You post your thoughts in a blog article
  • You share your “truth”
  • You go into work every morning

I hate to break it to you but these things don’t require bravery.

They may be scary. They may challenge you. But they are not bravery.

What we call brave today isn’t so brave when you consider what was brave 20, 30, or 40 years ago. Bravery cost people something. These days, we consider a social media backlash loss. Or the drudgery of work to be something we have to be brave over.

Let’s Be Brave Again

Let’s get over our weaking of the word brave. Let’s make brave mean something again.

When you feel the urge to tell someone they were brave, think about whether or not they truly were brave. You will begin to see how often you overuse the term brave or bravery.

Instead of telling someone they were brave, tell them they did a great job. Encourage them about the good work they did.

However, if what they did wasn’t true bravery, don’t weaken the word. Use the appropriate word.

Then, when someone is truly brave, tell them how brave they were. Let them know you were excited for their ability to overcome a major obstacle and doing something that could have cost them everything.

And, a bigger challenge to youI want you to be brave again. I want you to do things that stretch, challenge, and may cost you something.

Look for areas in your community you can be brave. You can be brave by:

  • Standing up for the downtrodden
  • Calling out injustice at your work
  • Sharing your faith with your coworkers or family members

We can begin to take back bravery. We can become brave again. If only we are brave enough.

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