Fear is not your friend

These are scary times. If you allow these times to be scary. 

The reality is that when you allow fear to creep in you are in big trouble.

Life is full of things that seem worthy of fear…

  • Big decisions like where to go to college, who to go out with, who to marry, having kids.
  • Big moments like telling your loved ones where you are going to college, who you are dating, that you’re getting married, or that you’re pregnant.
  • Pursuing big huge dreams and taking big huge risks to fulfill them.
  • Failure or being told your dreams aren’t going to be fulfilled.
  • Having a personal failure disclosed publicly.
  • Going broke, going hungry, or even having to move in with other people.
  • Relationships ending, you ending relationships, or relationships just accidentally ending.
  • Saying the wrong thing, at the wrong time, to the wrong people.
  • Unknown-ness.
  • Upcoming known stuff.
  • Unsafe things happening next door, in your house, or even on TV.
This list never ends, does it? We each, in our moments of vulnerability, have things we are afraid of.
Likewise, we each have things that we should be afraid of that we’ve learned aren’t all that scary because you’ve been there and done that.

A fearful state of mind

Over the years I’ve learned the biggest problem with living in fear of things beyond my control is that fear puts me in a state of mind which increases my ability to make stupid decisions. I remember one of my management mentors instructing me to use fear as a tool of manipulating people to do what I wanted. “When a person buys a car or a house or their spouse is pregnant, that’s when you change their job function or work hours. Why? Because they are so strung out financially that they will just deal with it because they can’t afford to quit.
That was stupid advice. Ultimately, I don’t want to manipulate anyone into doing something because they are afraid of the consequences. Fear is a short-term motivator. It’s helpful in an emergency, like when a building is on fire, but you can’t motivate someone to do their best work for years at a time over fear of a job loss.
In the same way, I do whatever I can to push fear aside. I don’t let fear of the stuff above scare me into a dumb decision. Instead, I push fear aside in those moments. Ultimately, it’s just an emotion and I have power over emotions.

What is worth fearing? (Not a rhetorical question)

More like who.

The Lord. The phrase “fear of the Lord” is found at least 135 times in the Bible.

Sure. That sounds cheesy right off the bat. But when you allow the reality to sink in that God is bigger, stronger, and in full knowledge of everything you face… it adds a new perspective on things I fear.

Ultimately, it helps me to know that fear of stuff doesn’t come from the Lord. Over and over again I read in the Bible, when God’s people were faced with impossible odds, “Fear Me alone.

Next to that? Everything else is unworthy of my fear. 





4 responses to “Fear is not your friend”

  1. Jonathan Wright Avatar
    Jonathan Wright

    Donald Miller points out in his latest work that Do not fear or some version of this statement is the most repeated commandment in the Bible. It’s not the most important commandment, but for a bunch of humans that will believe a lie more often than the truth (sometimes) “Do not fear” sure does need to be repeated.

  2. Jeff Goins Avatar

    I like this a lot. I just wrote a post on fear on my blog. It was a short confession of what I’m afraid of. It got an incredible response in a short time (despite my doubts that anyone would be able to relate). It made me realize something: there’s a lot of fear out there.

    And fear (of the wrong things) is stupid.

  3. Nick Arnold Avatar

    To some extent, I think the biblical call to “fear the LORD” is not simply respect or reverence, as I’ve heard some describe, but actually fearing God, like one might fear a hurricane. It is a recognition of the awe, power, and glory of God.

    My pastor recently challenged me with this verse, however, and I’m still wrestling with how it might fit in with this conversation: “By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love” (1 John 4:17-18). This passage seems to say that those whom God loves no longer need to fear him, for on the day of judgment it will not be them who are punished, but the wicked.

  4. Joe Malinowski Avatar
    Joe Malinowski

    Thanks for this post. In my own journey, the words “Be not afraid” have come forward in prayer, reflection, liturgy, scripture, etc… Right now I am in between jobs, my wife and I stepping out in faith to move 1500 miles from our home for the past 14 years, and my family just went through a serious cancer scare.

    When I think of fear, I am often drawn to the story of Peter being called out of the boat by Jesus. Eyes on Christ, your safe, eyes on the waves, your sinking. For me its that simple, not easy, but that simple. “Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” I thought I’d be wiser by now, but the Lord has more for me to learn, I guess.

    Thanks for the blog, always encouraging!

Leave a Reply