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Men Without Chests and a Lack of Courage

(coach)josh chumley *culture Jun 08, 2022

C.S. Lewis’ Abolition of Man can be a daunting read but it is worth every turn of the page. In it, Lewis highlights a sobering concept, “men without chests."

A man without a chest is a man without heart or courage. This man can be described as a man with a false sense of self that leads with pride, self-importance, insecurity, and is unwilling to be coached. He is defined by absence and avoidance. No truth guiding his steps. No freedom to chart a path that meets his God given desires due to the fear of man and failure.

What is the man missing?


No heart = no courage = no capacity to lead

Lewis is clearly calling out that we walk through life without heart. We walk through life without courage. The man has a “puffed up” exterior that looks like strength, wisdom, leadership when in reality the man is gasping for air. I may think I am conveying leadership, but in reality I am only a shell of a man.  What is central to his humanity is missing.  He is lacking authenticity and embraces an unwillingness to deal with hard things.

No heart.  No courage. No leadership.


Everything comes from within

Our culture, churched or not, struggles with truly living and leading with heart. The heart is complex and as the Word reflects….”Out of the Heart Flows the Issues of Life."

Not only from a biological sense, but more importantly a spiritual sense. Spiritual cultivation of heart takes time. Time each day in reflection, silence, and solitude. From these times of “slow down," we begin a journey to understand what is impacting the heart which directly impacts our ability to lead.

Empty heart.  Emaciated courage. Poor leadership.


The “tin man” syndrome is defining our leadership and the churches and marketplaces we lead. Tin men talk a big game with little substance and action.

I see this in the marketplace and it is rampant in the church. No true conviction. No heart or a stony heart at best. 

Calloused and burnt out, leaders try to lead just based on “saving face” and “faking it till you make it” as a philosophy. This is a recipe for a common disaster… the perfect combo for narcissistic leaders that are caught up in self importance.

Cultivating a courageous heart takes gut wrenching honesty with yourself. There needs to be reckoning of your past issues, hurts, and time to grieve. Grieving personal losses… absolutely, but also leadership losses.

Leadership is not for the faint of heart….so take care of your heart by allowing time to process. Learn and apply life and leadership lessons from grieving cycles.


Heart check, heart made whole

How can your heart stay in check?

1. Pray dangerous prayers like King David.

“Create in me a clean heart, oh, God" (Psalms 51:10).

Be prepared to be challenged in your marriage, fatherhood/motherhood, and in your leadership.

2. Surround yourself with people that will check you and encourage you on the journey.

The journey is what it is all about. Don’t be too quick to skip to the destination of influential leadership.

3. Stay in tune with your heart.

Ask hard questions like, "What is motivating me?”

Or, "What haven’t I allowed myself to feel?”

Courage will rise when you are your authentic self and you understand your motivation for leading.



My prayer is that your motivation for leading is pure and selfless. If it’s not, you may be leading with heart, but a heart that will become hardened and arrogant.

Full heart. 

Authentic courage. 

 Real leadership.


By: Josh Chumley 

Note: Josh is a coach with Courage to Lead. Learn more about Josh here.

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