Overcoming The Goliaths In Your Life
Giants are not what we think they are. The same qualities that appear to give them strength are often the sources of great weakness.”
― Malcolm Gladwell,
Life is full of proverbial mountains and valleys. We all love the mountains, but the valleys can be more than challenging. Sometimes we even create our own mountains and believe that we can not climb them to the top. Sometimes we believe that mountain climbing is for other people who are better climbers, have more skills and confidence. Life is also full of giants, those huge obstacles that come up and oppose us, discourage us and even fall on top of us. “They are so big”, we say, “there is just no way I can beat this”. We see them and want to give up without even trying to fight them.
Let’s look at the story of a giant and a shepherd boy to see what can be learned.
The Goliath and David Story
Goliath was a warrior of the much-feared and exceedingly tall Philistine people. David was the youngest son of his father and a shepherd. He was a member of the Israelite nation under the rule of King Saul. In those days nation armies would challenge another by asking for hand-to-hand combat with one of the bravest men of the opposing army and the victor would claim the land for his nation.
It so happens that the Philistine army selected Goliath as the challenger to the Israelite nation. There was no one in the Israelite nation willing to rise up and fight this Goliath. And we can’t blame them – they were giants and terrifying to look at. David, this shepherd boy heard of this challenge as he was bringing food supplies to his brothers and stated that he would go out to fight this challenger. Everyone laughed at him and told him that he was not able. Even the King advised him not to fight. But David explained that he was able to take him on with his sling and that had killed enemies worse than this.
Let’s stop for a minute here to understand what David was saying. Being a slinger meant that a person was able to take a stone, put it in the slingshot, circle it around in the air to give it momentum and then shoot it with unparalleled accuracy. The damage from a slingshot was the equivalent of that of a gun. It was deadly. So, David knew his craft, he knew he was able to take this giant down and he was certainly not afraid. He had done this many times before. He had the mindset of one who was going to get the job done.
“You can’t concentrate on doing anything if you are thinking, “What’s gonna happen if it doesn’t go right?”
― Malcolm Gladwell,
The Giants in Our life
Our Goliaths may not resemble this story, but they can overwhelm us and challenge us. Some of them may be debilitating fear, addictions, health challenges, failures, or crisis. They may appear like mountains of impossibility before us and we may believe that we will never conquer them. But sometimes the strength of our opponent can be its weakness. Remember that a small boat is able to maneuver more easily than a huge tanker.
Sometimes we imagine that these Goliaths are bigger and stronger than we are. We may see them as bigger than they actually are. The reason for this may simply be that we focus on our own weaknesses and powerlessness to overcome. We also look around us and wonder why everyone around us seems to be doing ok. Misinterpreting the power and scope of these “giants” in our lives and underestimating our own ability to find solutions can cause a good deal of unnecessary stress and anxiety.
What Do You Have in Your Artillery?
David the shepherd boy had artillery and he had mastered his skills. He had honed them over and over, killing lions and bears that threatened his sheep. Yes, he had a slingshot, but he was also a master at using it. When challenges came, he was ready to meet them face on.
When challenges come our way, as they will, what do we have in our artillery? What skill sets do we have? What information do we have? Have we prepared to meet challenges in whatever area of our lives that are under attack? Everything is in the preparation. We can arm ourselves with good information and live proactively rather than reactively. Sometimes people will come along and offer us less-than-useful advice – King Saul offered David a sword to fight with, but what was he supposed to do with that since he had never used one? some people will tell us to just “live with it” or conform in some way.
“The individual who says it is not possible should move out of the way of those doing it.” –Tricia Cunningham
Don’t Listen To The Critics
The critics, or what I like to call “the peanut gallery” are not in the battle. they are on the sidelines where they can safely watch and give their opinions. The critics are not the ones who will have to deal with the consequences either. It is very easy to give advice or to flippant remarks about how you won’t be able to do something or about how you should just stop trying, but who needs this kind of advice. It is much better to surround yourself with people who will build you up and encourage you
“…. they were not really afraid. They were just afraid of being afraid.”
― Malcolm Gladwell,
5 Lessons from the David and Goliath Story
Rise Above Your Fears
Fear is going to happen. Courage is not the absence of fear; it is the ability to go forward in spite of fear. Was David afraid? Maybe he was. But he also knew what he had to do and was able to walk boldly into the arena. Inactivity or maintaining paralysis out of fear will not make the fear go away and it will not solve the problem. In fact, you need to reduce the size of fear – put it into its proper perspective- and magnify your ability to act anyway.
Know that Size Is Unimportant
Sometimes challenges seem so massive that they overwhelm us. But is size really the issue? It is your ability to overcome, to change how you see the problem and to find solutions that matter more than how impossible or big the problem may seem. A problem is just a situation waiting for a solution. Size is irrelevant. David did not concern himself with how many feet Goliath measured or what his sandal size was. He was focused on getting the job done.
Use What You Have
What is in your artillery? Use what you have and use it to the best of your ability. You may think you don’t have much (money, skills, knowledge, ability), but why not focus on what you do have? Lamenting over what you lack is not going to move you forward. Have a “doesn’t matter” attitude. What did David have? He certainly wasn’t a trained military man, He didn’t have a massive army and he was very small in comparison. But David had a sling, some stones, and experience using these. He went into battle with what he had.
Without faith that you can overcome, you will not be able to. It is like shooting yourself in the foot before you even try. Belief is crucial to being able to accomplish what you want to do. How many people quit on themselves before even allowing themselves to have some victory. If you don’t believe you can, then, clearly, you believe that you can’t. David was surrounded by cowards. None of them believed it was possible to take this giant down. Even King Saul thought he could use some help and offered armor and a sword. But David didn’t,t take him up on the offer because he already knew he was capable.
Don’t Sell Yourself Short
Which is bigger, the problem or you? Are you not capable of rising to the challenges? If we underestimate ourselves and think of ourselves in a small way, why should we accomplish anything? Don’t fall into the mindset that you can’t or that it is not for you. Just believe and try. Don’t tell yourself that it is not possible. You were not created to have leftovers. The Bible says:
I can do all things through [a] Christ who strengthens me. (Phillipians 4:13)
David had confidence in his God who strengthened him. He knew he would have the victory. He knew his God and he knew the outcome. Whatever challenges you have, have faith, raise the standard and run towards the challenge.
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