Fear of success not only makes you easy prey for those who are not on fire with God's vision, but it also makes you easy prey for your own concerns about what they might think. The best thing you can do to counteract this fear is to recognize that true success is only what God views as success, not what others think or say.
Fear of Being Found Out I refer to this fear as the "impostor syndrome." It is an excessive concern that people will figure out you're not really smart enough, good enough, funny enough, articulate enough, organized enough or loving enough to fulfill God's purpose for your life.
I remember well my fear of being found out after I was laid off and spent 14 months securing a new job. Although I was doing excellent work for my new employer, I dreaded the day when someone would find out I wasn't competent enough or productive enough. Instead of seeking to fulfill my daily purposes in a way that pleased God, I directed my energy into being a boss-pleasing impostor.
I will be forever grateful to a good friend who showed me a practical way to take courage in that situation. He insisted that I write down examples of how well God had provided for my children and me while I was jobless.
As I began to remember God's miracles in my life, I saw how God had been with me all along--just as He promised. That evidence of God's faithfulness in my life infused me with courage and allowed me to enjoy my new job.
Fear of Failure Many people view personal failure as if it were the AIDS virus--life-threatening, devastating and too sad to discuss. But we will fail, and God graciously will offer to forgive us for our shortcomings.
Put your failures in perspective and keep walking forward in spite of them. If God can forgive us, why not take courage and forgive yourself for your mistakes--past, present and future?
No matter what our fears, the only way we can create a place secure from fear is to do nothing and go nowhere. We will perish either from lethargy or claustrophobia.
So if you find yourself living in a tiny, fear-enclosed box about what God is asking you to do with your life today, pray for claustrophobia! At least that way your instinct will be to break out. Seriously, accept God's forgiveness and ask Him to help you step out of the box.
I don't know what fears stop you cold in your tracks. Whatever they may be, I urge you to take a step of courage each time.
God has promised to be with you. Nothing beats taking hold of His hand as you walk through fear, shouting, "God struck down Goliath for me today, and all is well."
We really have only two choices when it comes to fears related to fulfilling our life purpose. The first is to complete God's assignments while kicking and screaming in fear. The second is to make the entire journey easier by beginning today to give our fears to God, or at least to trust that He is with us as we do His work.
HOW TO BE A WOMAN OF COURAGE
The following suggestions will help you step securely onto the rock of courage. Take as much time as you need to complete the steps that are most helpful to you, and repeat them as often as necessary to continue stepping forward with courage.
Rank Your Fears List the things you fear about living out God's purposes for your life. Are you afraid He will send you to Africa as a missionary? Are you afraid you will somehow fall short of God's intentions? Are you afraid you will need to repent of a pet sin or work on your character?
Are you afraid you will not have enough money for the task or that you will have to quit your job? Are you afraid you will have to give up your current ministry or invite a neighbor to church? No matter what your fears are, rank them in order from least to worst.
Pray over your list, and ask others to pray on your behalf that God will reveal the truth about your fears as they relate to His purpose for you. Then, boldly claim God's promise that He will be with you.
Next, take a baby step and offer one of your lesser fears to God. Keep working the list, fear by fear, for as long as it takes. Reward yourself when you overcome a fear.
Be Honest With Yourself First, ask yourself, "How does fear keep me focused on myself?" Write down your answer and review it in a week. If it fills you with a godly sorrow, repent of your self-focus.
Second, ask yourself, "What has fear stolen from me?" (It could be an opportunity for God to bless me or for me to bless God or others.) Discuss your answer with a friend and ask for advice on how to take courage against your fears.
Apply the "just eat your spinach" approach. Sometimes you just have to go ahead and eat the dreaded spinach--by giving your first speech, presenting your idea for a novel or making your difficult request--before you have time to smell and taste the awful stuff called fear. Sometimes the best course of action is to just "go for it," even when you're afraid of what is ahead. Trust God to see you through.