My friend Dan Nichols recently wrote a post identifying fear as the greatest threat to leadership. It got me thinking. I agree that fear keeps many people from living a story worth telling, but it doesn’t have to if we make fear our friend.
None of us enjoy feeling that our story might not turn out the way we want it to. Fear is what we feel when we sense we’ve lost control, when we’re uncertain about what might happen next. When we don’t know how things are going to turn out, we feel fears icy grip tighten around our soul.
But fear is not all bad. In fact, out of our control is what we should be feeling — it is the reality in which we live. When circumstances bring us face-to-face with this reality, we have a choice: let our fear control us, or see it as an opportunity to live a more authentic life.
A few years ago when I wrestled with God’s call upon my life to write and minister to His Kingdom-at-large, I feared so many things. Money, loss of reputation, disappointing others, feeding my six children — it was a long list.
I could have done nothing. I could have kept serving in Christian ministry and enjoyed the approval of many who reminded me often of the good work I was doing.
Only I would have known that I was ignoring God’s call to live with authentic faith and help others do the same. What finally stirred me to make the move and overcome all the fears was, well, fear itself.
When my fear of a life left unlived outweighed my fear of all temporary concerns, I found the courage to step out. What I discovered is this: only when we let go of the appearance of control can we grasp the hands of the One who controls all things.
5 Ways to Make Fear Your Friend
I have learned — or, more correctly, I am still learning — that fear signals an opportunity to live a more authentic life of abundant faith. Fear is an opportunity to:
- Lean In. Most people quit when they confront fear. They choose to sit on their gifts and settle for a safe, comfortable, and mostly forgettable story. If you want to live an extraordinary life, you must do what ordinary people will not do — lean into the adversity when everyone else is running away.
- Lean On. The psalmist put our choice this way: “When I am afraid, I will trust in you.” (Psalm 56:3) Fear offers an opportunity to believe and increase our faith. Without faith it is impossible to please God. (Hebrews 11:6) So when we sense fear, we may have an ideal opportunity to become more pleasing to our Creator — if we have the courage to do what we believe to be true, often in spite of what we see, sense or feel.
- Look Up. Like the disciples at Jesus’ tomb who failed to see the angel the women saw, we often walk through life with our heads down. We don’t see God at work because we don’t expect to see God at work. Circumstances that trigger fear also force us to look up from our self-reliant routine and acknowledge that we are incapable of making sense of it all on our own.
- Learn Quickly. Fear can be a terrific motivator. When we fear having no money, we study late and work harder to build a business or find the job we need. By recognizing the value of fear, we can harness it to accelerate our growth, letting it drive us to learn what we need to learn to prepare ourselves for success.
- Listen Closer. It’s easy to let fear spiral into panic. But what if we took intentional action instead? What if we drilled down into that fear to identify what triggered it in the first place? What if we asked that most powerful of questions: Why? If we can identify the cause of our fear, we can evaluate its merit. If what we believe about God is true, why should it scare us?
Fear is often a sign that we’ve misplaced our trust. When we trust in something other than God, we SHOULD be afraid. We’re in over our heads and we know it — even if we don’t want to admit it.
Fear can become our friend when we focus it rightly on God. [Tweet this!] Only when we fear God rightly can we trust Him completely.
Question: Do you agree that fear can be a friend? What other ways have you found fear to be helpful to your faith walk? Share your thoughts by clicking here.