Today is President's Day. Most kids are out of school. Most parents don't have the day off from work. President's Day is an odd, little holiday. It seems to be best known for the fact that stores have pretty good sales. We don't spend a lot of time celebrating the day. But President's Day is a great opportunity to not only talk about George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, but it's a great day to teach your kids about courage. What's the first thing that pops into your head when you hear the word courage? My favorite movie is The Wizard of Oz, so whenever I hear the word courage, I immediately hear the Cowardly Lion saying the word in his gravelly, stuttery voice. In that movie, the Lion thought he didn't have courage because he was always afraid, but the Wizard told him that courage didn't mean never being afraid. Like the Cowardly Lion, our kids can get confused about what courage is. Courage is not the absence of fear. It's standing up for what's right even in the face of your fear.
As Christ-followers, we have an extra advantage when it comes to being courageous. We have God with us. While God commands us to be courageous, He also promises to go with us wherever we go. He promises to be standing by our side, even in the midst of battle. In Joshua 1:9, God says, "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go."
We are commanded to be courageous. God tells us not to be afraid because even against the longest odds, He will be with us. Joshua faced some tough situations in his job of leading the Israelites to the Promised Land. He was outnumbered and overmatched in many battles, yet because God was on His side, He prevailed.
President's Day is a great time to talk with your kids about courage because it celebrates the births of two men who stood up for what was rignt in the face of difficult situations. George Washington led the Continental Army against the British in the American Revolution. He had an army of farmers and shopkeepers with no formal military training to fight against the biggest military power in the world. The situation was daunting, yet he persevered and won. His reward was to lead a group of separate states and diverse people to become a country. Another daunting task. In both these situations, he showed courage and strength.
Abraham Lincoln led the United States through one of the darkest periods in its history -- the Civil War. He chose to end slavery in the United States, despite the fact it made him extremely unpopular with the slave-owning South. He did what was right in the face of difficult opposition. And he paid the price for it with his life when he was assassinated.
We can use the lives of these two men as a springboard for a conversation about courage with our kids today. We can capture the everyday moment of this holiday and use it as a time to teach our kids about God's command to be courageous.
- Talk with your kids about Abraham Lincoln and George Washington. Ask your kids what they know about these two men, then give them some age-appropriate information about what they did and why they are important. Talk about the courageous decisions that they made.
- Ask your kids to define courage. Talk about how courage is not the absence of fear. It's standing up for what's right in spite of your fear. Ask your kids to give you an example of a time when they were courageous.
- Read Joshua 1:9. Talk about how God commands us to be courageous and that He promises to be with us to help us in situations where we need courage. Post Joshua 1:9 in your house somewhere and work to memorize it together this week.
- At dinner this week, ask your kids to think of ways they have been courageous during the day. Write those things on a piece of paper and hang it next to wherever you posted your verse. Remind your kids that being courageous doesn't always require a big action. Sometimes it's as simple as helping someone who's not well-liked at school.
- Give each of your children a piece of paper. Ask them to write a simple prayer that they can say when they lack courage. Remind them that God is the source of courage. Hang the prayers in their bedrooms where they can see it. Explain that it's a reminder for them to pray when they lack courage.
President's Day is a great time to help your kids get a handle on courage. Use the example of these two courageous men to point your kids to the source of true courage. As your kids take Joshua 1:9 to heart, they will become young men and women of courage.