Mama, You Can’t Preach Bravery and Be Paralyzed by Fear

Our daughter, Ava (#ohAva as she is known on social media), was making brownies last night. I’ve been working hard at getting my life and my waist right, so I’ve been trying to get off the sugar train. Do you know how hard this is? (Note to self: the season when you are attempting to write your first book is probably not the time to give up sugar. I’m just sayin’.)

So I may or may not have swiped my index finger through the brownie batter last night, because brownie batter gives me life. But then I hear #ohAva say, “I thought you were giving up sugar?”

Who needs to listen for God’s voice when you have children, right?

In all seriousness, though. My kids call me out on my hypocrisy and hold me accountable to my goals more than anyone else in my life. They can smell me not walking the walk a million miles away. And in a lot of ways, they are my secret weapon when it comes to doing the big things that scare me.

Setting a good example for my children is super important to me. And I want to tell you why it should matter to you too.

(Side note: if you don’t have kids of your own, I bet you still have some kids in your world that matter to you. You have neighbor kids, little ones at church, or nieces and nephews that you adore. Or you will have kids one day, so don’t glaze over here. This will still mean something to you.)

I am hyper aware of the fact that if Jason and I don’t show our kids how to do things despite being scared crapless . . . who will? How can I expect my kids to listen to God’s direction, do hard things, and do them afraid when their parents won’t even do it?

If I don’t model for my kids how to do it scared, who will?

So much more is caught than taught with kids. If I want my kids to eat healthy, they need to see me eating healthy. If I want them to be kind to others, they need to see me being kind to others. If I want them to be brave, I need to do hard things so that they can see me demonstrating bravery.

When it comes to doing the big, hard, and scary things in life . . . the things that you’re scared to do, and the things that you know you’re called to do, it’s your kids who will know if Mom is stalling and if her talk does not line up with her walk. I think God gives us kids as little walking conviction devices.

Just like Ava knew I was cheating myself out of healthy eating, your kids also know if you are cheating yourself out of opportunities because of fear. I promise you, they can smell it. And if they can’t smell it, they can smell your “stuckness” and how you feel overwhelmed, because it seeps out of your pores, my friend. They may never mention it. And they may not even realize what it was until they’re older and have the opportunity for adult reflection, but they do sense it.

When I am trapped like that in my own head, I am not who I want to be as their mom. I’m short, I’m frustrated, I’m distracted. And they know that.

As the mom, the encourager of the home, the head cheerleader for your children, if you are preaching bravery but paralyzed with fear, there is a problem.

If over your family dinner (and by family dinner, I mean Jimmy John’s, because #freakyfast) you are telling your kiddos that they should sign up for student council, that they should audition for that part in the play, or that they should go out for the basketball team again even though they were cut last year, and yet you aren’t stretching yourself toward the dream in your heart—the desire to run a race or quit a job or start a Bible study or finish a degree—then you, my friend, are not practicing what you preach.

In the words of my pastor, Phillip O’Reilly, “You’re preaching the measles but you have the mumps.”

And around here we call that hypocrisy.

Now listen, I’m as guilty as the next girl. (Hello, brownie batter.) But when it comes to summoning up some courage and getting out of your comfort zone and doing the things you’re called to do, it’s so important to remember your children are watching and making mental notes. Your kids will take their cues from you, Mom.

We hire people to teach our kids how to drive, but we never consider who will teach them to be courageous. We count on schools to teach them Spanish, but who is teaching them obedience to God? We teach them how to ride a bike, but we don’t teach them how to get our souls out of a stuck place.

Moms, you can’t delegate or hire out or pass off to someone else the lesson of doing hard things. This is your job. Tag, you’re it.

I believe the degree to which you model courage for your children is the degree to which your kids will walk in it. It’s you. Yes, Dad’s courage matters too, but I have a strong conviction that courage has Mom’s name written all over it.

Now listen, I talk to women allllllll the time who tell me they “can’t” start the thing, return to school, get back in shape, take the trip, et cetera, because they have little ones. And I want you to know, I get it. But I often find that moms do one of two things:

1. We use our kids as an excuse.


2. We prioritize our kids’ lives over God’s call on our own life.

One thing I feel super passionate about, after talking to thousands of women in thousands of families all over the country, is that our kids have to see us mothers caring about things other than them. We have to stop giving in to the culture that says a mom’s life should be all about her children.


This post is an excerpt from Taken from Fear Is Not the Boss of You, by Jennifer Allwood. Copyright © 2020 by Jennifer Allwood. Used by permission of Zondervan.

Jennifer Allwood
Jennifer Allwood
Jennifer Allwood is a passionate cheerleader of women who adds biblical truth to the modern day “dream big” mantra. She’s the author of Fear Is Not the Boss of You: How to Get Out of Your Head and Live the Life You Were Made For  and host of The Jennifer Allwood Show which holds a regular spot in the Top 25 Entrepreneurship Podcasts in the world with 1.5 million downloads. Her no-nonsense approach to doing things you are scared to do and saying yes to God is helping women everywhere build the life and business of their dreams. When she’s not coaching her nearly 3,000 clients each month, she’s livin’ the dream with Mr. Magic (her husband, Jason) and their four wild kiddos—Noah, Easton, Ava Grace, and their new bonus kiddo, Ariana. 

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