Building Brave Spaces

By Deidra Riggs

April 28, 2018

David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the LORD will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.”

1 Samuel 17:45-47


I’m changing my tune.

For a very long time, in my writing and public speaking, I worked hard to create safe spaces for my readers and listeners. Mine is a unique calling. I serve as a missionary to the white evangelical church. I have developed treasured relationships with my white evangelical brothers and sisters, and I hold a deep love for them.

A group of people at the foot of a waterfall.As we have labored and worshiped and grown together, our conversations often dip into what some might term “hot button” topics. We talk about systemic racism a lot. We also talk about the ways racism shows up in the Church. See what I mean? “Safe spaces” have been important to me, and to my white evangelical brothers and sisters.

But, now I’m changing my tune.

Rather than working to create safe spaces, I’m seeking ways to build brave spaces. More and more, I see this is what Jesus did.

Right about now, you may be asking, “But, what’s the difference?” Here’s how I would answer that: Brave spaces are transformational.

Brave spaces draw a person out and give them the opportunity to be transformed. Alternatively, safe spaces often make it safe for me to stay the way I am. Brave spaces invite vulnerability, while safe spaces often keep me shielded from growth. David’s brothers and the rest of Saul’s army chose safety when facing Goliath. But God calls us out of hiding and into the light, where we are invited to partner with God in miraculous acts that bring a new way of living. We may not slay actual giants, but bravery can certainly transform our perspective and grow our capacity for love.

There is a time and place for safety, but God, through the power of the Holy Spirit, invites us to be brave. Throughout the Bible, we find example after example of God inviting us to be brave rather than safe. Moses, and his mother and sister; Rahab; David; Mary and Joseph; and even Jesus helped change the trajectory of history and the well-being of us all by choosing bravery over safety.

So, I’m changing my tune. How about you?

Something to Think About:

When have you chosen safety over bravery, or bravery over safety?  Did it make a difference? In what way?

Something to Do:

The next time “hot button” topics come up in conversation, choose bravery over safety. Imagine how Jesus would respond, and invite the Holy Spirit to guide your thoughts, your emotions, your words, and your actions.


Lord, I like safety. I like knowing my loved ones are protected. Help me to know when to choose safety, when to be brave, and when to choose both. Amen.


Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentary:
David’s rise to power (1 Samuel 17-30)

Deidra Riggs

Writer & Author

Deidra Riggs is a national speaker, an editor, and the founder and host of Jumping Tandem: The Retreat, a bi-annual event for writers, authors, and entrepreneurs. She is a storyteller who creates safe space for navigating...

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