The Many Faces of Fear


I’m not afraid I’m just cautious. When writing, or teaching I want it to be just right. The same goes for ideas, recipes, ministries, and even conversations. I’ll play out a conversation in my head, but find reasons or conveniently forget to not have the conversation when the time comes. Sometimes we call it perfectionism, sometimes we call it caution, but if I’m being honest most times I should call it what it is. Fear.

Fear has many faces and takes many forms. It doesn’t always mean being in a corner crying out of terror. More often it is the subtle way we think that has been informed by a success driven society, a desire to please man, or as is most often my case the fear of failure. Fear can creep into our hearts and minds over time like new wrinkles. You look in the mirror and don’t really remember getting new ones, but it seems like they’ve always been there. Fear speaks our common language, and what's most dangerous is it uses our own voice. Time and time again, I have analyzed something I’ve written, preached, thought about creating, and decided to wait or have it looked at again. And again. And again The Bible warns us that we should take counsel from the community of believers God puts around us, but when that community becomes a crutch we begin to live life with a limp we’re not even noticing. Fear cripples us in the simplest ways. While there are many things to say about the fear of failure, let's remind ourselves of a few truths we know from the Bible.

1. We Aren’t Perfect

Fear of failure neglects the reality that we aren’t perfect. Only Christ is perfect. To live thinking we won’t or should never make mistakes, makes light of Christ’s sacrifice and forces us to live under the law in the sense that we must be perfect in all we do. God remembers our frames and that we are made from dust (Ps. 103:14). Let us not forget, we aren’t perfect, and that’s OK. It's about moving with the Spirit in the direction of perfection.

2. Failure Teaches

We are not yet perfect, and failure is a tool in the hands of skillful craftsman, knowing just what to tweak, improve, or chip away at (Ps. 119:67). We need to be able to look at our failures as moments to better ourselves at whatever craft or opportunity God has presented us with. Failure teaches us, and Christians should always be humble enough to learn. Learning helps us glorify God better in every area of our lives.

3. Failure Doesn’t Disqualify

Failing at anything will not disqualify us from God’s love, relationship with him, or eternal rewards and place in heaven (Rom 8:33-39). The question comes down to what are we valuing so much that we are afraid to fail at. Fear of failure reveals our desire to be seen a certain way and not be disqualified according to a standard that's not God's, or placing our trust in the wrong place.

4. God Cannot Fail

The sovereign, wise, holy, and perfect God of the universe cannot fail. Even amidst our failures, shortcomings, and flaws, God cannot fail. All things work together according to the purposes of His will. Are we trusting our work? Our ultimate plan? Or are we trusting the finished work of Christ on the Cross to already be accepted as perfect, by the God of the universe who teaches through our failures and leads us to the perfect end He has for those that have loved His son (Deut. 32:4, Rom. 11:33-36)?

Fear has many faces, thankfully God only has one. We need not fear failure, because Christ has conquered sin and death, thereby eliminating the only true enemy we had. Opportunities where failure is a possibility are chances to trust and walk with God. That plan, can never fail.