What will they think of me? What will they do to me? What if I say something that offends someone?
What if? What if? What if?
I am a fairly bold guy, but that wasn't always the case. I used to blend in with the wallpaper, trying to not draw attention to myself.
If they see me, it will be bad, I thought. I was a chameleon, without my own opinions or objections and without my own voice. I would say whatever I thought people wanted to hear.
If life's a stage, I hid behind my curtain of fear and only popped out when I was sure nobody would hook me around the neck and yank me back behind the curtain. After all the taunting and abuse I suffered as a kid, my final solution was just to shut up.
Perhaps you find yourself like most of us, allowing fear of what others think of you to have more influence over your life than what you would like.
The young woman says, "I'd better sleep with him, or he won't love me anymore."
The father, stressed out over finances, obediently sends out an inflated invoice out of fear that his boss would fire him otherwise.
A single mom gives in to her teenage son. Why does she cave? Because she cowers in fear whenever he launches into a rage over not getting his way.
There are myriad young, unwed mothers; morally compromised men; frustrated moms and delinquent teens destroyed by the fear of man.
Decision-making is a process. And fear of man can influence every aspect of that process. This is huge. It's perhaps one of the greatest hindrances to our personal growth and professional advancement. How many times have you thought about or wanted to do something right and good---and trepidation about what others would say or think stopped you in your tracks?
As I have been writing this, I must confess that the fear of man has been a continual nuisance to me. But I keep plowing ahead because I'm writing from my heart. I'm sharing who I am and how I have dealt with various fears in my own life. Again, my goal here is to get over the fears in my own life. If I can't be authentic in the process, I am giving in to fears myself.
One of the driving factors of my declaration of war on fear in the first place was my compassion for people who are dominated by the fear of man. I have a friend who is debilitated by the fear of offending someone. It creates rampant mis-under-indecisiveness and stress borne out of a fear of making the wrong decisions. Do you sometimes feel like your feet are cemented to the floor because you're so afraid your decisions will disappoint, anger or hurt someone? You are not alone, but that fear is certainly not in your best interest.
Are you afraid to speak up or speak out or speak at all? Your opinions matter. Your voice is meant to be heard for your own good and the good of those you care about. Your voice influences others. It has impact. It moves others. It can change their world.
Your fearful silence also speaks volumes. When you don't step up and share your thoughts when appropriate, your silence reveals to others that you live in fear. Those who look up to you will surmise that living in fear is the thing to do. Imitation happens. It just does.
To move beyond fear, you must recognize your God-given worth and the value of your contribution more than you fear any consequences coming from that contribution. The best solution for everyone is to speak the truth in a loving way. How people respond is not your responsibility. Being honest is. This is how we grow from fearful to courageous.
So what's the answer to the question, "What will they think of me?" To me, the more relevant question is, "What will God think of me?" In other words, I have a genuine love for Jesus that makes me want to please Him. I want to do His will and glorify Him with my life. This love is a big motivator of my obedience. John 15 says, "If you love Me, you will do what I command, and My command is this: Love one another" ( author's paraphrase). This loving command informs my decision to take a risk of obedience. You can't love people and shrink back in fear at the same time.
What is the real risk anyway? Is it actually riskier to obey God or the one we know is lying to keep us from obeying God? Who is our friend, and who is our enemy? Obeying God is presented to our minds as fear and risk only by the one who wants us to distrust God. So I say it's time to raise up an army of brave, obedient sons and daughters who love God and look like God and act like God.
Let's declare war on fear.
Adapted from War on Fear by John Morgan, copyright 2016, published by Creation House.
This book is a must-have if you are battling any kind of fear in your life. It equips you step by step and weapon by weapon to defeat each one. To order your copy, click on this link.
PRAYER POWER for the week of Feb. 19, 2017
This week, tune in to the Holy Spirit and ask Him to guide you as you pray. Thank Him that His perfect love casts out fear and that you can come boldly to the throne of grace. Ask Him to give you the same boldness the disciples received when the Holy Spirit descended on them in the upper room. Pray for protection and wisdom for our newly elected president, his Cabinet and the administration. Pray for unity in the body of Christ and that it will spread and unite the country. Continue to pray for worldwide revival, our allies and the peace of Jerusalem (1 John 4:18; Heb. 4:16; Ps. 122:6; 1 Tim. 2:1-3).
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