Squaring Off Against The Fear Of Failure

Jeff FAITH

Let me take you down a well-worn path in my life.  I used to dread its shadows and hated the fact that there were so many bends & twists upon it which obstructed my line of sight.  This pathway was never one I wanted to tread but I found myself on it regularly as God insisted on leading me further into His sometimes-unclear plan for my life.  I’ve seen a few of you on it also during my travels.  I remember we didn’t speak when we saw each other because both of us were a little embarrassed to be there, seeing how we are supposed to be people of faith.  But there I was and there you were.  Walking quietly with nervous sweat on our brows, traveling down the path called Fear Of Failure.

“Be careful now, for the Lord has chosen you to build a house for the sanctuary; be strong and do it… Be strong and courageous and do it. Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed, for the Lord God, even my God, is with you. He will not leave you or forsake you, until all the work for the service of the house of the Lord is finished.” – 1 Chronicles 28:10, 20-21 {ESV}

The words above are from a seasoned, courageous man to his young-adult son.  I’m talking about King David and Solomon.  God had commanded that Solomon would sit on Israel’s throne after David and that Solomon would be in charge of building the Temple, the house of God.  In this portion of God’s Word we learn that Solomon was given the task by God, supplied with every single thing he would need for the job, had power and authority to make it all come together and was surrounded by people who had confidence in him as the soon-to-be leader of God’s people.  God fully equipped Solomon and even threw in a cheering section as a bonus!  David, well knowing his son, said the words above in order to motivate the young man to accomplish God’s plan.  I have a sneaking suspicion that David’s spiritual discernment revealed that his son would be battling fear.  I count in those verses above 7 different imperatives from David to Solomon concerning the need for Solomon to work through his fear and follow through with faithful action.  Those imperatives are sandwiched between reminders that God had chosen Solomon, God was presently accompanying Solomon in the task and that God would remain with Solomon until the work was done.  Those are powerful components that we need in order to build the life that God has appointed for us.

So what does God want you to do?  I have been rolling this question over in my heart for a couple of months now.  In doing so, I have envisioned some pretty incredible things and submitted them to the Lord in prayer.  I am applying the truth of Ephesians 3:20 and am seeking His blessing on some lofty goals for my life, my family and the ministry He has entrusted to me.  Additionally, when following His guidance of my heart in prayer . . . I have found myself a time or two on that old familiar pathway called the Fear Of Failure.  How’d I end up there again?

Has God not called me?  Is He not with me right now in the present?  Has He promised to never leave me and that He will complete the good thing He began in me?  The bible indicates that God is seeking those who will worship in spirit and truth and that His eyes are scanning the world to find someone on whose behalf He can show Himself strong (2 Chron. 16:9a).  Candidly, I want to be that someone.  Yes, yes, yes -I want God’s best to be poured out upon me.  My theology tells me that God is willing to do exactly that but Mr. Fear Of Failure stands up to protest with his deep bass voice as it hollers, “Now hold on a minute!”  I suppose I have a choice here.  To whom will I listen?  God has spoken objectively in His word and affirmed those truths subjectively in my own heart.  Mr. Fear Of Failure has two thick patches over his eyes, seeing nothing of God’s Kingdom and prefers I stand still on the pathway named after him where everything is murky and cold.  Both the voice of God and the voice of Mr. Fear Of Failure are asking for my allegiance.  In these larger issues of my life-vision I am unable to heed both voices so I am going to have to choose.  So much depends on this.  Mr FoF swears to me that he will keep me safe from the possibility of disappointment and embarassment.  God does not make that particular promise but He does tell me that He will go before me if I choose to risk it.  Mr. FoF draws close to my face and with stale breath whispers that the potential benefit is not worth the price I’ll pay.  God reminds me of the price He paid in order that I might have access to any potential benefit at all – He seems to wonder why I would squander His sacrifice by listening to the voice of Mr. FoF.  Indignant unto the end, Mr. Fear Of Failure tells me that the best things have been reserved by God for others, not people like me.  That’s when God has had enough of Mr. Fear Of Failure’s discouraging, intrusive words and brings down a fist of omnipotence on his doubting head.

So now I hear only God saying to me, “I have dealt with Fear Of Failure today and I’ll silence him again when he returns – and he will return, I promise you.  Today, I am looking you in the eye, child, and telling you that I know what I am doing with your life.  I am inviting you to accompany Me because the tomorrow I have designed for you cannot be found in the topography of your today. Child, playing it safe is for the pagans. You have Me and I hold you – and I want to do something significant with you so that My name will be magnified.  Are you in or not?”

And my answer to Him will be revealed in the rest of my days…