What are you afraid of? Nothing? Are you sure?Are you really sure?
The truth is I have never met a mentally intact person who isn’t afraid of something. There are the usual fears we hear about all the time. Some are afraid of flying, some fear the water and some are scared to death of a snake. Fear is common. But sometimes our fears are not well founded. At least we can say that the feared consequences are not nearly as bad as we imagine. These are irrational because they don’t make sense to clear thinking people. Let me suggest a few to you today.
Fear of Rejection
There seems to be a built in desire to be liked by other people. There are few true loners in the world and most of us fear being rejected. Successful salesmen know that rejection is just simply a part of the business. You have to get X number of rejections in order to get 1 sale. They don’t like being rejected but it is just going to happen.
Many Christians are paralyzed by an unhealthy fear of rejection. We know that we need to speak to a friend or relative about their salvation, yet we delay and make innumerable excuses because that friend might reject our overtures. But we should consider the alternative. What do we lose if we allow fear to quash our efforts? Is their soul worth the possible cost of rejection? Clearly not.
Fear of Embarrassment
Have you ever had a dream that you were speaking to a large crowd on some very important topic and suddenly you realize that you never finished getting dressed and you are standing in front of the crowd in your underwear? Believe me, preachers know that dream well! In many cases, embarrassment is very common. Whatever you do to be embarrassed today has already been done by others. Think about it, letting a word slip out or flubbing a speech are common. Turning red-faced because the boss asks you a question you should know, but do not, has happened to us all.
Sometimes we stumble in our evangelism because of embarrassment. How many times have we said, “I don’t approach people about the Bible because I don’t know that much myself. I’m afraid they might ask me something I do not know.” This is not un-realistic. If you speak to enough people, someone will surely ask a question that you do not know the answer to. Just remember what you knew when you became a Christian and tell that story. I must say that this particular fear can be sharply reduced by adequate Bible study – but then that is another article.
Fear of Failure
I have to admit that this is one I struggle with. It scares me to think of starting something which I then fail to complete successfully. It may be that there is something to the idea of fearing to fail. We should aim for success in all we do. But when that fear actually stops us from trying – then we have a problem. Thomas Edison is reported to have once said, “I have not failed, I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Now that’s a brilliant approach.
Some good hearted people never fully come to Christ because they are afraid of slipping back into the world. They have adopted a “no-sense-in-trying” philosophy that keeps them from coming to know the life changing power of the Lord.
Breaking the Fear Cycle.
Fear works in a self-sustaining cycle.
We fear something or someone,
Because of fear, we do not attempt to do it,
Therefore, we avoid the consequence of the fear, and then,
Our fear is reinforced.
Someone might say, “I sure am glad Joe didn’t reject my offer to study the Bible,” we say. Our companion replies, “But you never even talked to him!” That’s right! And he didn’t reject me either!” It’s an awful cycle that always gurantees comfort without success.
This cycle is not broken overnight. Years of reinforcing have made your fears powerful emotional barriers to success. You break the cycle one step at a time. By acting against your fears slowly and deliberately you begin to chip away at it’s power. Force yourself to talk to someone about Jesus just one time and you will find that your fears are a tad less powerful tomorrow. Keep doing it and you will soon shatter that particular fear. Every attempt builds confidence which is the great foe of fear.
Two things for today: First pray for help to overcome your fears. Courage is given to the Christian. There is no greater anti-fear than the Father. Second, do something, even small, in the face of your fears. You will be surprised at your growth!