There are two sentences in the beginning of Clint Rutledge’s book “Strong and Courageous” that sum up the book’s purpose.
The opening statement in the introduction reads “It is tough being a teenager today.”
The opening line in the first chapter reveals the anxiety felt by a teenager: “It seemed as if every eye in the room was on him.”
Clint began writing the book after learning a statistic that haunted him.
“I learned that one in every three girls, and one in every four boys, suffers from some form of anxiety,” he said. “It is the next big thing that will be sweeping America.”
When the pandemic hit, many teenagers were spending more time at home, but not only was the anxiety still there, it was growing.
“I feel like it is this huge monster that moved into the shadows, and it is just waiting,” Clint explained.
The author, speaker and business owner had been working on a documentary helping coaches connect with teenagers to help them be successful not just in athletics, but in life. Clint credits much of what he has learned to his dad, DW Rutledge, a high school coach known not only for leading teams to championships, but successfully coaching students about attitude and about life.
After interviewing teachers, counselors, pastors, coaches and teenagers, Clint found that anxiety was the number one challenge for teenagers.
“I had teenagers in my house at that time. I wanted to be able to help my own kids and help other teenagers,” Clint explained about his decision to write the book.
It focuses on three important messages based on the Book of Joshua scripture on being strong and courageous.
“How to stand strong in your convictions is based on Joshua 1:7. Do not bend to the left or the right,” Clint explained.
“How to stand strong in times of discouragement is based on Joshua 10:25. Do not be afraid. Do not be discouraged,” he said.
The third message on how to stand strong in times of leadership is based on Joshua 1:6. (“Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them.”)
“Even when you are 14 or 15 years old, you will find yourself in situations where you will be called to lead,” Clint explained.
The lessons are told through the eyes of young Josh (representing a newer version of Joshua) and Mo (Moses), a high school janitor.
When Clint was formulating the idea for the book, his nephew, Josh, was a teenager in Oklahoma, competing for a starting quarterback position. It was a challenging time, and Clint saw the anxiety teenagers face from constantly comparing themselves to others. That anxiety, he said, has been magnified by social media.
In “Strong and Courageous,” Josh and Mo go on a journey together to navigate the specific challenges of being a teenager today.
The janitor’s mop is his staff.
“As soon as Josh picks up the staff, the floor drops out, and they get conveyed into the stories to teach the lessons,” Clint explained. “It was a lot of fun writing the book.”
There is a study guide at the end of the book. In addition, readers can download “The Teenage Guide to Good Decision Making Activity” at strongandcourageousbook.com.
The guide is based on a writing exercise Clint did with his daughter.
“I had her write down the character traits she thought she needed to have when she left for college,” he explained.
Based on those answers, he told her that every decision — socially, academically, and in all aspects of her life — should be focused on those traits and getting her closer to her she wanted to be.
“It was one of the best conversations we ever had,” Clint said.
He added that the lessons of the book were about who we are and who we want to be, and focusing on that journey — a journey orchestrated by God and with a purpose.
“The Wise Men followed a star, a point they were going after,” Clint explained.
The purpose of the book was to help teenagers make that point — that focus — a constant in their lives so they have direction.
“My goal is to get this book in the hands of as many teenagers as possible so they know, ‘I can do this, and I do not have to be anxious or afraid.'”
“Strong and Courageous” will be available the week after Easter and can be ordered at strongandcourageousbook.com.