I Do Not Feel Courageous

By Inés Velásquez-McBryde

May 17, 2020

Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”

Matthew 14:31 (NASB)


You aren’t made aware of how fragile your faith can be until you face plant on the sea of Galilee. Peter is courageous in his request (or is that crazy?): “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to You on the water.” Perhaps that was the word that had a heartbeat in the earlier verses when Jesus told them all: “Take courage.” We all know that taking risks is part of the life of a leader, even and especially when it includes trying out something you have never done before. You have to be equal parts crazy risk-taker and courageous. Like walking on water. I may have looked down on Peter in times past because I was impatient with my own Peter-self. “How could he take his eyes off of Jesus?! Why would he focus on the waves?” Oh, Inés. Are you sinking again?

Yet. Jesus. The ever-patient leader is kind to stretch out his hand, reach down and take hold of me when I cannot uphold myself. Here is what I love about the depths of Jesus’ question: “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” I have been conditioned to look down on that word doubt and undermine that little faith, until I learned that the word “doubt” that is used there means: “to waver, to hesitate, to feel uncertain.” Jesus is not offering a word of condemnation but an invitation in the waters. He invites Peter into a conversation: Why did you hesitate? What made you waver? Why are you uncertain? Jesus invites Peter to get to know himself better during this time. Not for the sake of condemnation, but transformation. Jesus welcomes partial faith because it becomes a place of growth. Jesus can work with partial faith.

Indeed, after this miracle they believed in the identity of Jesus as God’s own son. If I read between the lines, though, Peter and the disciples also believe something about their own identity in the face of fears and courage as growing leaders. What I see is a Jesus that can hold the tension between times of fear and courage and says: “It is I.” He holds our fears. He holds our courage (or lack thereof). He holds our partial faith. And he starts a conversation where he is at the center of that conversation: It is I. He is the center.

 Something to Think About:

 Do you like who you are becoming in this crisis? What is this crisis exposing in you? What past is resurfacing? What present circumstances are re-shaping and re-forming you as a leader? Can a point of pain become a place of promise and possibility?

Something to Do:

Reframe courage so that it welcomes uncertainty. Ask about your hesitations. Offer up to God any of your wavering.


Jesus, you who knew grief, you who were worn out by your daily tasks, and you who walked on water, offer us an invitation today. You who see us face plant on the seas of our never ending repetitive days, grant us faith. You who see us waver at the uncertainty, grant us courage. You who sees us hesitate, reach out your hand to steady our hesitation. May you access our doubts, our fears, our partial faith and our wanderings with your grace, your courage, your steady hand, your steadfast voice. Grant us stamina and courage, for you have never asked us to anything as leaders that you haven’t been willing to do yourself. Amen.

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Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the High Calling Archive, hosted by the Theology of Work Project. Reflection on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: Laughable Biblical Criticism

Inés Velásquez-McBryde

Chaplain at Fuller Theological Seminary & Pastor, Preacher, Speaker

Inés is an ordained pastor, preacher, reconciler, writer, and speaker. We are pleased to feature Inés as a regular Life for Leaders writer. On June 15, 2019, Inés received her Master of Divinity degree from the School of Theology at Fuller Theological Seminary where she now serves as...

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