Every day we face challenges. Some are easily overcome while others may cause us to shrink back in defeat. Some days it may very well feel as if we are David facing down the terrifying Goliath. When faced with such insurmountable odds how can we face these challenges and win?
David vs. Goliath
For those unfamiliar with the story of David and Goliath let me give you some background. The story itself appears in both the Old Testament and the Quran. The Philistine army faced off against the Israelites, both sides preparing for battle. In this age, it was often tradition to send champions from each side to fight for the army as a whole with each nation respecting the results of the “duel.” (why this was customary could take up an entire blog in itself!)
The Philistines produced Goliath as their champion. Goliath was known for his size – his enormous size! While reports vary, his reputation exists still today (just check out the Goliath Tigerfish, Goliath Grouper, Goliath Beetle, Goliath Birdeater Tarantula and Goliath Frog in the animal kingdom). As the account goes, he challenged the Israelites every day for 40 days to produce a challenger, but he scared them so much that nobody stepped forward.
That was, until David came along. David was a young shepherd boy who had just shown up to deliver some food to his brothers who were in the army. He saw what was happening and decided to take up Goliath’s challenge. I won’t get into the details of what transpired, but suffice it to say that David chose 5 rocks from a nearby stream, loaded one into his sling and landed it right in the middle of Goliath’s forehead, dropping him dead.
We face Goliaths all the time. Whether it’s dealing with difficult bosses or bullies, overcoming an addiction or facing an obstacle beyond your abilities, these can easily strike fear into our hearts.
How do we equip ourselves for facing the Goliaths in our lives? I’ve heard this question asked a few times and would like to share with you the answers that I have enjoyed most. Take these as your five stones when facing challenges capable of striking fear into an entire army.
Stone 1 – Courage
To face any challenge in our lives it’s going to take courage. Standing up to a Goliath takes heaps of courage. Rarely are we born with courage, but fortunately anyone can find it. Take a look at this list of 66 ways to build your courage. The common theme in that list is to practice doing things that make you uncomfortable. You’ll then find it much easier to take on these challenges head on.
Stone 2 – Effort
The heights by great men reached and kept
Were not attained by sudden flight,
But they, while their companions slept,
Were toiling upward in the night.
(Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, “The Ladder of St. Augustine”)
Challenges become larger when we’re plagued with procrastination, laziness and apathy. The first step in defeating any goliath of a challenge is to decide to take the first steps. And then to keep taking steps until we’ve reached our goals. There is no substitute for hard work and valiant efforts.
Stone 3 – Sense of Duty
“Let’s have faith that right makes might; and in that faith let us, to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it.”
– Abraham Lincoln
Sometimes we will be forced to face our Goliaths when we least desire to. It’s our sense of duty that will keep us moving forward. Our resolve to do what is necessary when we least feel like we can will separate the Davids from the rest of the soldiers.
“It is better to do one’s own duty, however defective it may be, than to follow the duty of another, however well one may perform it. He who does his duty as his own nature reveals it, never sins.”
– Lao Tzu
Stone 4 – Humility
Sometimes when facing our Goliaths we help ourselves feel better by deceptively playing down the severity of our challenges or weaknesses. No good can ever come of this. Using courage as a weapon against fear is one thing, but deceiving ourselves into thinking that we don’t have a problem can prolong the battle. It takes a good dose of humility to properly assess our Goliaths and create the proper plan of attack.
Stone 5 – Faith
Yep, faith. But not just in the religious sense. In its most simple sense, faith is a belief that is not based on proof. We need the hope and belief that we can accomplish something even before we know it for certain. I’m reminded of the popular adage, “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.”
The battles against our Goliaths may never cease. Luckily fighting them WILL get easier with practice. Developing an arsenal of skills to aid in your quest will get easier with time. Keep at it and don’t give up. Choose not fear the Goliaths, but to welcome them as a chance to prove your true strength.