Jacksonville’s LifeWork Leadership Message: Be Courageous in Life, Work, & at Home!

Courage was the topic of this month’s First Coast LifeWork Leadership class for enrolled students and workshop for all the guests and alumni. Nearly 100 had gathered at CrossWater Church in Nocatee on a beautiful Spring day in Northeast Florida. So nice that I rode my motorcycle with not much more than a windshirt keeping me warm.

There were three main speakers—Pam Mullarkey on ‘Jesus & Courage,’ then a case study with Mac McGehee dealing with courage in the corporate world, and the national keynote speaker was Chuck Bengochea, Founding Member of CityServe International with past leadership CEO positions at The Original Honeybaked Ham Company of Georgia and Family Christian stores.

But there was plenty more as this was a 4-hour educational, yet interactive, class that was fast paced, had a lot of variety, and spoke to issues of the heart and world. Who does not need more courage in life?

The first speaker of the morning, after Tammie McClafferty’s welcome and prayer, was Torren a junior in high school who attended LifeWork last year. An impressive young lady who defined courage as the ability to do something that frightens you. Her world view is that a Lack of potential is due to a lack of courage. Overcoming fear of failure, changing subconscious human habits were evident as she overcame the fear of coming to speak to us this morning. She gave an eloquent speech, well-scripted though with little reference to notes. We all stood up afterwards to applaud this spirited youth who undoubtedly will go on to win the Raines Beauty Pageant at school this year!

We met our Table Host Phil and had short discussions throughout the morning on the homework readings from Acts, Abraham Lincoln: The Spiritual Growth of a Public Man by Elton Trueblood, and Lifeworks’ Insights on Courage: The Jesus Journey. Like any college course or opportunity for growth there is needed preparation. The readings were insightful and gave a true perspective of how important courage is not only ourselves but our families, community, nation, and the world!   

This morning I learned about the courage of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German pastor and theological writer, who was executed in April 1945 for conspiring to assassinate Adolf Hitler after being inspired to do so by God. As Christians we are already dead to our self and free to be resolute, think, and act as directed by God. What truly is the cost of discipleship in our lives.

Pam, speaking on ‘Jesus & Courage,’  shared four stories from her lifetime that required courage through Jesus—standing up for students and encapsulating and protecting classroom budgeting in the St. Johns School District despite huge tourism funding shortfalls in the early 1990s—founding Project SOS to help teenagers with goal setting, boundaries, bullying, and avoiding drugs & alcohol—praying over and resurrecting a dead ‘flat’ cat—and overcoming a personal issue with the help of The Holy Spirit.

Next up was a slide presentation entitled “Unchurched Next Door—Who are they?” I learned some fascinating statistics: 82% of ‘Unchurched’ folks would be ‘somewhat likely’ come to church if they were invited; mainly for the spiritual well-being of their children. 79% believe in Heaven. Some types of ‘Cold Calls’ are effective. Christians have not particularly been influential in the lives of the ‘Unchurched.’ There are so many opportunities, particularly on a one-to-one basis to reach out and give testimony of what God, Jesus, and The Holy Spirit are doing in our lives. All it takes is a little bit of courage!

Mac shared a challenging spiritual dilemma concerning himself, his company, his family, and his community and how to muster up the courage to speak out on an issue fundamental to Jesus. These bible verses were referenced in this case study:

Jeremiah 1:8-9:   “Do not be afraid of them, For I am with you to deliver you,” declares the Lord.  Then the Lord stretched out His hand and touched my mouth, and the Lord said to me, “Behold, I have put My words in your mouth…””

Luke 12:11-12:   “So you can anticipate that you will be put on trial… Don’t worry how you’ll respond, and don’t worry what you should say. The Holy Spirit will give you the words to say at the moment when you need them.”

While not a biblical verse, the popular motivational quote “Courage is fear that has said its prayers,” from the short poem “Courage” published by Karle Wilson Baker in 1921 came to my mind too. 

We can find the courage in Jesus and the Scriptures for any and all situations but we first must seek guidance from the right sources and then go within to find the answers on what our next step is to be!

The last speaker for the day was the national keynote speaker Chuck Bengochea who has had both immense corporate success (The Original Honeybaked Ham Company of Georgia), heart-wrenching corporate failure (Family Christian stores), and redemptive community outreach as a Founding Member of CityServe International.

Chuck shared how he coped with a son at war, not knowing whether he would come home dead or alive—starting each day on his knees with prayers of desperation. Yet coming to realize that God’s plans are always trustworthy—that courage is not a horizontal pursuit, but a vertical pursuit that plays out horizontally. At this point I realized that I was on the edge of my seat eagerly awaiting the rest of his sharing and testimony.

See the Cross at CrossWater? I missed it for years...

See the Cross at CrossWater? I missed it for years…

Chuck told the story of how early in their 43-year marriage to date his wife boldly started a bible study in their neighborhood by literally walking the neighborhood and praying at each home. Successful she did this in two subsequent neighborhoods that they have lived in. Chuck’s idea of a 50th birthday present for his wife was to contact the people in those bible studies and if they were blessed to write a letter to his wife. He published a book of the letters. The publisher came to Christ through reading the letters. God works in mysterious ways especially when we take bold steps and take action on moments of inspiration to love, comfort and be merciful to ourselves and others.

John 10:10:   “A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy; I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.”

Referencing John 10:10 Chuck shared that Jesus did not die for us to lead a safe life. We are never sure of the outcome but have to trust God. Courage is foundational to an intimate, personal relationship with Jesus and uncovering the life he wants for each of us.


Tammie ended the morning with reference to the movie the ‘Greatest Showman,’ playing the song “This is Me,” and a prayer that we could all have courage and not be afraid of being different and use our voice and create community in the name of Jesus Christ whether at work, home or play!

CLICK HERE for more information on LifeWork Leadership First Coast in Jacksonville, Florida!

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