Basic to Christian faith is the belief that God is present in every situation, and this has led to great acts of courage. Courage takes many forms: it may mean facing up to opposition or personal danger; it may mean overcoming your personal fears or phobias; it could mean making a stand for the right
The Bible is full of such stories of courage: David and Goliath; Daniel in the lions’ den; Paul on his missionary journeys; Jesus himself in the Garden of Gethsemane.
Emphasis upon endurance is common in the New Testament where it is linked with patience and suffering. St Paul is certain that endurance honed by suffering, is character building and is characterised by love (Romans chapter 5 verses 3-4; I Corinthians chapter 4 verses 12 – 13). It is linked with self-control, godliness (II Peter chapter 1 verses 6) and steadfastness.
At its root, endurance is recognition that life is sometimes difficult and painful, and that it is important not to give up in the face of adversity. Jesus endured rejection, abuse and the cross, and his followers are warned that they may well have to share that pain as persecution took hold. Discipleship is depicted as ‘taking up the cross daily’ and following in Jesus’ footsteps (Luke chapter 9 verse 23)
It often takes real courage to be truly self-sacrificing, which is why the two values are linked here. The ultimate picture of this is shown in Philippians chapter 2 verses 6-8 where Paul describes how Jesus “emptied” himself of all the privileges of being God to become a man, subject to cold, pain, rejection and , ultimately, a painful lingering death.
For Christians this self-sacrifice may include sacrificing their personal plans and ambitions, their property, reputation or comfort, for what they know to be the will of God in their lives.
Self-sacrifice is not an occasional event ( a giving up of chocolate biscuits for Lent) but a formative lifestyle. Christians would argue that a life which looks inward to one’s own personal pleasures becomes dull and boring, but a life which looks outward to put others before self is a fulfilling life.
Courage / Endurance & Self-Sacrifice in School
In the school situation this could relate to questions of self-esteem, standing up to bullying, or challenging oneself to do one’s best. Many of your children may already be ‘children of courage’ as they deal with home problems or ill-health.
- How does the school positively support children who are facing personal difficulties, for a variety of reasons, and help them to face these problems with courage?
- Is your school culture one of selfishness or selflessness?
- Do your pupils understand that some things are worth working for or worth waiting patiently for? How do you develop patience?
- What encourages the people of your school to persevere in the face of difficulty?
- When everything is changing rapidly around us, from fashion to policies, how do you help pupils, staff and governors to identify and treasure those things which are of enduring value?
- How do you tell the Holy Week and Easter story so as to present the meaning and message of Jesus’ life and death in an appropriate way?
- What opportunities are there to hear the stories of those who have suffered for their faith, and to be inspired by them?
- How does worship help people develop a sense of hope that will sustain them through difficult times?
- Does your target setting and your marking policy encourage and motivate pupils or discourage them?
- How do learning and teaching strategies encourage perseverance and motivate children to give of their best?
- How do we give pupils an appreciation of the difficult situations that many people throughout the world endure and the courage and resilience they show? How can this inspire us?
- What encourages you all and inspires you to persevere if your school passes through difficult times?
- What practical resources does the school use to support those who are struggling? Could more be done?
- How do we develop the strength to carry on in the face of difficulty?
- How do the governors and senior management team help cultivate a climate of hope and a vision that sustains a school in challenging circumstances?
- How can we ensure that the Christian values shared in school endure into the next phase of a child’s education and into adult life?