Devotion 3 in the series Overcoming Fear

Fear of Failure: How to Overcome It!

Inside: Fear of failure can stop you from starting what you were intended to do! God has a word for you! Look inside for 3 strategies for overcoming your fears!

Fear of Failure: How to Overcome It!Photo by Andreas Fidler on Unsplash

Who here has ever not started something because you were afraid it might not work out, you might not know how to do it, or you weren’t sure where to start? You felt overwhelmed and unsure, in short, because you might fail?

{hand raised here}

Fear of failure might cause you to not try a new recipe when company is coming over (what if they don’t like it?) or agree to make a presentation at work (what if you fumble through your notes?). It might keep you from pursuing a new path of education (what if you can’t make the grade?) or step out in new relationships (what if they reject me?).

Fear of failure is one of the main reasons people don’t start a weight loss or healthy living journey (what if it just proves I cannot lose the weight or run a mile? See the Extra Info below!).

Articles on fear of failure abound, but rarely do they consider God’s take on it. And, yet, He has a lot to say about it!

Fear is a pretty typical emotion, but fear of failure is when we allow fear to stop us from doing things that would help us to achieve our goals. We might even sabotage our own efforts because we are so afraid of what other people might think of us if we fail!

It’s one thing if fear stops you from trying a new recipe or giving a presentation at work. It’s even worse if it keeps you from developing wholesome, fulfilling relationships or eating healthfully. What if fear of failure stops you from doing the most important things — the things God wants you to do?

God has designed you for unique purposes that are important to His kingdom and for what He wants for the people around you! If your human fears are keeping you from doing kingdom tasks, it is time to take a look at how to move beyond the fear.

 

Seek God’s Guidance

The first step in moving forward God’s way is to seek God’s guidance. It is OK to make sure you heard His voice correctly! Remember Gideon with the fleece and the dew? God had asked Gideon to save Israel from the hand of Midian, and Gideon, being of the weakest clan in Manasseh and the least in his father’s house, wondered if the command was for real.

You might want to read through the account in Judges 6. We could get into a discussion about whether you want to ask God for a sign, like what Gideon did with the fleece and the dew, but essentially Gideon took time to converse with God and make sure he was on firm footing: 

Did God really want him to lead the effort to defeat the Midianites?

Sure enough, it was really God’s voice, and God really did want him to do this very hard thing.

Even before the fleece and the dew, Gideon talked with the angel of the LORD over a meal of meat, unleavened cakes, flour, and broth. When fire sprang up and consumed the meat and the unleavened cakes, and the angel of the LORD vanished, Gideon came to a new understanding: God really was asking him to do this mighty task!

Notice that going through this step of seeking God’s guidance will bring you great peace:

22 Then Gideon perceived that he was the angel of the LORD. And Gideon said, “Alas, O Lord God! For now I have seen the angel of the LORD face to face.” 23 But the LORD said to him, “Peace be to you. Do not fear; you shall not die.” 24 Then Gideon built an altar there to the LORD and called it, The LORD Is Peace. To this day it still stands at Ophrah, which belongs to the Abiezrites. (Judges 6:22-24 ESV)

 

Move Forward with Trust

Now that you know God is asking you to do this thing, it is time to step out in faith. This is the hardest part! Remember, you have grounded yourself in the fact that God wants you to do this task you’ve felt nudged about. You now know that what God has asked you to do is ordained by Him. So . . . it is not because of your efforts that this goal will be accomplished! It is because of what God will do in you and through you. But it’s on Him. Got it?

Fear of Failure: How to Overcome It!Yeah, I know, easier said than done!

To prove the point that it was God’s battle, not Gideon’s, God had Gideon trim his troops from 32,000 down to only 300 men. (You can read about that in Judges 7.) That is quite a reduction in resources! Do you see God’s point? It’s the Old Testament way of saying, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV).

Yes, we are inadequate for many tasks. That is exactly the point. Only in God’s adequacy — His sufficiency — can we accomplish so many things that He desires for us!

I am convinced that a good amount of my fear of failure is not trusting God with the outcome. If God has asked me to do something, the outcome is not up to me; it is up to God! Oh, if I could only fully trust Him for every single thing and not take so much of the responsibility upon myself!

 

What If You Fail?

That’s the real question, right? What if you do fail? This is an honest question, because just as success is part of living, so is failure, and at the root of fear of failure lies a host of buried questions: What will other people think of me if I fail? What if I am not capable or smart enough to pull off this thing? What if my failure hurts other people?

It’s time for a reality check: What if we could redefine success to include inevitable failure? Did you know:

  • Michael Jordan was the famous basketball player back in my day and is still considered the best basketball player of all time, edging out LeBron James. Humor me: I went to college in Chicago when Michael Jordan was playing for the Bulls! For his NBA career, MJ’s win-loss record was 706–366. That means he lost more than half of the games he played! His field goal percentage for career NBA regular season play was .497. That is outstanding by NBA standards, but it means that every time he went for a basket, he had less than a 50% chance of making it. If you’re a LeBron James fan, his FG% for career NBA regular season play was .504 — just barely over half.*

 

  • It took Thomas Edison thousands of unsuccessful attempts to make the light bulb, but he eventually figured it out! He famously said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that don’t work.” (For side reading, see this great article on persevering through failure!)

 

  • Person after person in the Bible failed, and, guess what: Those who were walking with God finished with unsurpassed joy, because God had it! The status of the world was not dependent on their success!

 

Let’s turn from Gideon to Moses. I know, this is a sharp turn back in time, so take a moment to adjust!

Moses so did not want to go to Pharaoh to talk him into letting the Israelites leave the land of Egypt! He begged God to let him off the hook, but God made it clear: Moses was the person He had chosen for this humanly impossible task.

Has God chosen you to do something, even if you don’t feel equipped? Really think on that!

In God’s sovereignty, Moses experienced great success in leading the people out of Egypt. Through God’s guidance and leadership, Moses taught the people how to live beyond the shackles of slavery, worship God, and treat each other.

Then in one disheartening moment, Moses branched out on his own, not following God’s command, and lost the reward of crossing into the earthly Promised Land. In frustration, he struck a rock to get water for the people instead of trusting God to provide the water. You can read about this in Numbers 20. See the Extra Info for more on this below!

Let me tell you, that passage has always bothered me, and it still does . . . except MOSES RECEIVED SO MUCH BETTER!

Centuries later, when Jesus was transfigured, showing His full glory to Peter, James, and John, who did they see with Jesus?

Moses!

That’s right: Along with Elijah, Moses was hanging out with Jesus in the Ultimate Promised Land. Yep! God did not forget His faithful servant! Not once, no way, Amen!

Back in the desert, upon Moses’ death, God Himself had tenderly buried Moses (Deuteronomy 34) and welcomed him into the true land of milk and honey, where Moses’ fears of inadequacy and shaky leadership mattered no more, because he was covered in the redemption of God and His everlasting love!

Maybe we need to recast the question from “What if I fail” to “Who am I trusting?”

This we can hold onto: If we walk with God, seek His will, and follow His voice — even then, we may experience what seems like earthly failure. But Jesus’ promise to be with us to the very end of the age is certain and sure, and therein lies our great security!

So, go on, brave out! Succeed! Fail! Look to God for everything, and He will guide you!

What have you been putting off that God is calling you to do?

Remember to

  1. Seek God’s guidance.
  2. If God says yes, move forward with trust.
  3. Trust God to cover your failures!

 

Digging Deeper: Fear of Failure

Do you find yourself afraid of failing? Spend some time talking with God and listening for his voice.

1. Ask God to bring to mind something that He has asked you to do that you have put off. It might be as simple as writing a note of encouragement to someone or as big as starting a new venture. What is it? Ask God to reveal to you the reasons you have put it off.

2. Confess to God any reasons that seem to not be from the Lord. It is possible that He has told you that the timing isn’t right or that you need to learn more in order to take the first steps. But if you have a fear of failure that is rooted in a lack of trust in what God can accomplish, take time to confess those fears and your lack of trust.

3. Read Judges 6 and 7, or just one of those chapters! They are fascinating plot-based accounts. I promise you won’t be bored! Write down everything God says to you as you read those chapters.

Now choose one thing God has asked you to do, and work through this process for overcoming fear of failure, seeking God’s guidance every step of the way:

  1. Seek God’s guidance.
  2. If God says yes, move forward with trust.
  3. Trust God to cover your failures!

 

Praise and Worship

Worship and praise drive out fear. Let’s lift our hearts and voices in praise to God today!

Forever Reign (Running to Your Arms; Hillsong)

Fear Is a Liar (Zach Williams)

 

Extra Info!

This article focused on fear of failure, but did you know there is also fear of success? If you are walking a weight loss journey, you might find this article on fear of success helpful!

 

For a helpful read about the account of Moses disobeying God by striking the rock, see Why was Moses not allowed to enter the Promised Land? From that article:

“Moses didn’t need to use force; he simply needed to obey God and know that God would be true to His promise. Also, Moses took the credit for bringing forth the water. He asks the people gathered at the rock, “Must we bring you water out of this rock?” (Numbers 20:10). Moses seemed to be taking credit for the miracle himself (and Aaron), instead of attributing it to God.”

 

Join Us at Digging Deeper with God!

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*Data from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Jordan and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LeBron_James#NBA_career_statistics.

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