Taking a stand can be a an incredibly lonely position. Yet masses of people avoid it, due to the fear they battle within.
When you choose to do what's right in the midst of opposition, it can open a door for fear to want to hold you back. Yet there is tremendous freedom and power available when you stand in the midst of fear.
Being Willing to Stand Alone
In the nineties and early 2000s, I served as a youth pastor. Every year, we would encourage students to stand by their flag pole and pray for their country in an event titled See You at the Pole. Christian students all over the country would gather on the third Wednesday of September to pray at their school flag pole. This was done in public while other students walked into class. It was an act that I wasn't sure I had the courage to do when I was their age.
But I watched numerous students participate with great excitement. They loved the idea of taking a stand and praying for God to have a work in their schools, their state and the country.
Yet in my memory, one guy stood out.
Every year I would send out youth leaders to video the students praying at the flagpole. As I watched through the footage, one of our students was standing there praying. He even knelt at the flagpole. He was praying by himself. No one else was there. There was no visible support.
I was blown away by the courageous act. But I was also reminded, there are times you may need to stand alone.
Breaking Through the Fear
Because of standing up for good things, I've walked through seasons when I felt very alone. You would think standing up for God and what is right would garner support. Yet in reality, taking a stand can actually kick up resistance from those who are more interested in keeping the status quo, even if it is unhealthy and ungodly.
There are numerous times I've had to learn to stand, even if it means standing alone. I've stood up for integrity in the church while dysfunction was covered up in the background. I've fought for overcoming marriages when couples didn't want to deal with the real problems. It's painful when you do that and then turn to see who is beside you and find no one there. As a result, you walk a lonely road.
But please don't get me wrong. There are plenty of times I did not stand, because I didn't want to deal with the resistance. There are many times when fear gained the upper hand.
Too many are more concerned with not rocking the boat and not experiencing rejection. Fear keeps them from expressing their God-given convictions and authentically sharing who they really are.
Things rarely change until someone takes a stand and is willing to pay the price of that stand.
Being Willing to Do What Others Won't
I've mentioned in a previous article about a moment I had to confront a guy in a board meeting. After the confrontation, everyone froze in silence. But after the meeting was over, they all came to me and said, "You just said what we've wanted to say for so long."
But why don't we say anything? Why don't we speak honestly? Won't we have better relationships and more improved lives if we have real conversations?
But we don't go there because of fear. We're not willing to take a stand for God's ways of doing relationships. We're afraid of what will happen.
Many times, we are afraid of being alone.
Being Held Back
Some of you need to take a stand, but you're held back by fear.
- You tolerate abusive relationships and are afraid to take a stand.
- You know you need to speak up, but fear holds you back.
- You find yourself in a toxic and unhealthy environment, but you hold back from saying anything.
- You hunger for more of God, but you don't press in because of the fear of what the complacent will say.
Many times, you can feel stuck when you know the answer is taking a stand.
Maintaining Wisdom in the Stand
I am sure this article can be taken the wrong way, where people take a stand in an unwise manner. They initiate "taking a stand," but they create more problems with hurtful actions. They often say "I am speaking the truth in love," when in reality, love has not been demonstrated.
When I talk about taking a stand, I am not talking about writing a post on social media or sending someone a harsh email. Writing a harsh comment on someone's Facebook wall is rarely a courageous step. Many times in our "taking a stand," we operate in rudeness and dishonor.
It's important to know you can take a stand without being a jerk. You do not have to be rude or dishonoring.
Yet at the same time, I find that so many are held back by fear, so they don't speak. They say nothing. They don't express their convictions. They don't want to rock the boat, so they simply sit in status quo.
Being Held Back by Fear
Too many are held back from standing because fear has so deeply conditioned them to live by polls of people more than by what they know is right.
Many times, taking a stand means living in a way that honors God when other people don't seem to care. It can mean making the choice of integrity while others cheat the system. Taking a stand can mean keeping a heart of forgiveness towards those who wrong you while everyone else judges and defames them.
The Fear that Keeps Us from Standing
We avoid standing for truth because of fear, but also because of our need to belong, to have people like us and approve us. We want to be included and accepted so much that doing what's right can be blocked. The pull can keep people from making the decisions we need to make. Our longing for connection will override taking the stands they need to take.
God is not interested in relieving you of the stands He has called you to take. In fact, freedom from fear and the deeper discovery of who God is can be discovered in greater clarity when we are willing to stand firm.
The Ability to Stand No Matter What
In the book of Daniel, the account of three Hebrew men is a classic lesson in facing fear and taking a stand. Their example has humbled me and challenged me to seek for a greater level of inner boldness to stand for God in boldness and confidence. Their example would make the strongest men of battle cringe.
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were pulled out of the captured Hebrews to serve in the Babylonian kingdom. While they served under an ungodly empire, God honored their integrity and faith by granting them favor before the king's leadership.
They could have easily ridden the coattails of their favor to pursue pleasure because of their esteemed status. Yet their No. 1 concern was to honor God and keep His ways alive in their hearts.
The Day of Decision
The turning point of contention arrived when king Nebuchadnezzar built a statue designed as an object for people to bow down to and worship. On a special designated day, the music played, and the command was given for all people to bow down and worship this graven image.
For most Christians of today in that circumstance, it would be a convenient opportunity to bend over and tie your shoes, as an excuse to avoid any pending punishment in the fiery furnace.
Yet their decision was to stand tall in honor of the Lord God Most High. With this tremendous step of faith and boldness, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego reveal to us some very important principles:
1. Facing Fear involves Facing Discomfort.
If you want to go where God is leading, you will have to let go of comfort being your driving force. If you are always looking for places in life that feed pleasure and comfort, you will always find yourself in a status quo existence.
These Hebrew men decided they were not designed for a life of comfort, but a life of power. They got comfortable with the uncomfortable.
2. What God Thinks Overrides What Fear Says
We can face fear when we gain a revelation of what God thinks about us. Yet so many struggle to connect to that reality, because they feel separated from God's love and presence.
When we experience the love and greatness of who our Father is, it overrides every other voice.
These Hebrew men had such a deep revelation of God's awesome nature that their words to the king after being arrested for are astounding.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to give you an answer in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But even if He does not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods, nor worship the golden image which you have set up" (Dan. 3:16-18).
3. Our confidence in overcoming fear should not be connected to God doing things our way.
When fear kicks up, we often do our best to grab control. These guys let go of control completely.
They took such a fearless stand, that even if God let them burn to a crisp in that furnace, they still wouldn't bow. They would not retreat. They would not back down.
That is the kind of revelatory power that needs to operate in this generation.
The lessons from this account in Daniel are endless, but I desire to see it light a fire in your life to help you overcome fear. Their message to all of us today could quite possibly be this: Take a stand. Keep standing and in the standing, you will overcome fear and discover the power of God like never before.
Mark DeJesus has served as an experienced communicator since the 1990s. As a teacher, author, coach and radio host, Mark is deeply passionate about awakening hearts and equipping people towards transformational living. His message involves getting to the core hindrances that contribute to the breakdown of our relationships, our health and our day-to-day peace. He is well-versed on struggles that originate within our thoughts. Through his own personal transformation, Mark is experienced in helping people overcome and live fruitful lives. He is the author of five books and hundreds of teachings. He hosts a weekly radio podcast show called "Transformed You" and blogs at markdejesus.com. His writings have been featured on sites like charismamag.com.
This article originally appeared at markdejesus.com.
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