By CH (CPT) Michael L. White, 2-19th Infantry Regiment
"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go." (Joshua 1:9 NIV)
Fear and discouragement are two very powerful emotions, but so are courage and encouragement. Perhaps we tend to experience fear and discouragement more frequently than courage and encouragement because of all the troubles and uncertainties of life, but that need not be so. We need to keep in mind that, interestingly enough, these opposing emotions are mutually exclusive of one another; that is, where one resides, the other opposing emotion can not co-exist. Therefore, we can displace fear and discouragement by remembering the powerful encouragement God gave to Joshua.
We may think Joshua had good reason to be afraid and discouraged. After all, his beloved spiritual leader, Moses, had recently died, leaving some very big shoes to fill, and now he was supposed to take over where Moses left off and lead the frightened, oft-complaining, critical, and quarrelsome people of Israel into a war against giants and fortified cities! Nevertheless, in the first nine verses of this first chapter in the Book of Joshua, God told Joshua no less than three times to be strong and courageous, and that doesnít include the several promises God made to him regarding what God was about to do with and through him. When God offers such powerful encouragement, how can anyone not be encouraged?
I have a confession to make: I am easily discouraged by the troubles and uncertainties of life, especially by the critics in this world. Iím sure some of those critics think theyíll motivate me to do better if they point out my weaknesses or failures, but their criticism serves only to discourage me and destroy my motivation. You might not expect this from a preacher and minister of God serving as a chaplain in the Army, but itís true. I am pretty good at encouraging others--in fact, I consider that one of Godís spiritual gifts to me (see Romans 12:8)--but Iím not so good at encouraging myself. However, I can always find reassurance and comfort and encouragement with God, when I pray to Him and read His Holy Word.
Just as God reassured and encouraged Joshua, so He encourages each of us. Moreover, if we want to be like God (and He did instruct us to be like Him, you know), we should work at encouraging others around us. If we all do that, someone will eventually encourage us, too. Any fool can find fault, tear down, and destroy another with criticism, but it takes a truly wise and godly person to encourage and build up another.
If you are a leader, whether an NCO or an officer in the military, or a civilian, let me encourage you to look for ways to encourage your subordinates and peers, rather than find fault and criticize their efforts. I think Iím safe in saying that youíll get a reinvigorated, less stressed, more supportive, and more cooperative section or unit or friendship for your effort. Now, may God bless and encourage you, too!