Most likely, you’ve experienced fear in some area of your life. Usually these fears are relatively mild and don’t affect your life with any real significance. Your fear of heights or spiders probably won’t drastically impact the course of your days.
However, some fears greatly impact what you do and how you do it. Fear can be debilitating and stop you from fulfilling or even starting the goals and dreams you so desperately want to accomplish.
What would you do if you weren’t afraid?
- Go to school?
- Apply for that job?
This question is one you most likely already have the answer to. You know what you’d do if you weren’t afraid. However, today we won’t be speaking about how to stop fear from happening, but how to overcome it.
Sometimes fear can be extinguished, but most times you simply have to overcome it while still experiencing fearful emotions. If you can learn to overcome fear, God will use you to fulfill His purposes that are far greater than any dreams you have for yourself. So let’s jump in and discuss 4 ways to overcome fear in your life.
4 Ways to Overcome Fear In Your Life.
1 .Embrace your imperfection
Fear is closely tied to people’s perception of us. We are afraid of what people think of us. We not only want people to like us, but we want them to respect us. Most people I know want to feel respected and valued by others. However, usually we have this underlying fear that if people really saw our imperfection, we would be found out as a fraud.
You might believe that if people really saw your imperfection, they couldn’t respect you, so allowing people to see your imperfection and especially embracing it, might sound counter productive.
But there could be nothing further from the truth. People respect and want transparency. Probably because they see so little of it. The world sees fake perfection celebrated, and craves to see genuine authenticity displayed. Here’s the truth…
It’s not a surprise to others that you aren’t perfect. Thus, it won’t be a surprise to them when you attempt your goals, dreams, new gifts or talents, and don’t knock it out of the park on your first swing. Looking foolish isn’t something that should hold you back (more on that in point 4). But for now, if you want to overcome fear in your life, you must embrace your imperfection because embracing your imperfection might display your weakness, but it will also highlight your courage.
Courageous people tackle fear. They hold it down, instead of allowing it to subdue them. They accept fear’s existence, but understand it is fleeting. Courageous people have experienced that the fear of doing something is usually always worse than actually doing it.
So, if you want to overcome fear, begin to embrace the fact that whatever you do, won’t be perfect. The sermon, talk, or speech you give, will probably have moments of you stumbling over your words and THAT’S OK. Embrace that imperfection and believe that it won’t discredit you, but actually endear people to you.
2. Believe that the people around you are for you
Fear is a lonely feeling. It causes us to feel isolated and believe we are one of the few people in the world afraid to do something. However, what’s even worse is that fear makes us see the people around us as critics.
Fear causes us to believe that those with us, are actually against us. Leaders who are afraid to lead, begin to believe those on the team won’t support them. Their fear of inadequacy draws them to form untrue beliefs about those around them.
In order to overcome fear in your life, you must begin to believe that the people around you are for you.
As a church planter, I’ve had to learn this the hard way. For the first two years of the church’s existence, I was afraid to preach because of what I thought people would think of me.
I was born tongue tied and at a young age had a speech impediment. I couldn’t say my “l’s”, “r’s”, or “s’s” because my tongue was too short to reach the top of my mouth. After having my tongue clipped, I had to relearn how to talk, and to top it all off, I stutter. I know, I won the speech lottery.
For all of these reasons and more, I was fearful to preach and believed that effective leadership was dependent upon eloquent speech. I should have just read the bible to realize that was completely false (Exodus 4:10).
Fear was telling me… ridicule and judgement were coming. BUT… what I found was that those waiting to hear the sermon, they were for me. They actually wanted me to succeed and weren’t focusing upon my imperfections. I was my hardest critic. I was actually the only one. Some others might have existed. I can’t be so naive to think everyone was in my corner, but the ones that really mattered to me were. (Click the link to hear my first sermon at BridgePointe: Topic… Fear)
The same is true for you. The opinions of those that truly matter, are for you, and all the others honestly don’t matter. This reality should produce great peace within you because those for you, will be honest with you.
Just because someone is in your corner doesn’t mean they become “yes men.” Yes men are people who always say yes and always tell you how awesome you are. This isn’t helpful because it isn’t reality. You won’t be gifted or called to do everything. But the big truth is this…
You won’t be gifted or called to take action on every exciting new venture. That’s the benefit of being on a team, as each person brings something to the table. You’ll have plenty of legitimate excuses to not move forward sometimes, but fear is a weak one. Truly, only you will know the difference.
Finally, those who are for you, believe in you. However, no one will never know what you’re capable of until you try (especially you). (Several of these lessons I’ve learned through my mentorship with Carey Nieuwhof. Check out this post for more insights)
3. Consider What’s At Stake If You Don’t Act
What we do should always be driven by why we do it. The why will always be more important than the what. However, fear can cause us to lose sight of what’s at stake if we don’t act.
My friend Seth Maxwell is the CEO and co-founder of the Thirst Project. A nonprofit organization that is dedicated to ending the global water crisis. When he was 19 years old he learned that 1.1 billion people didn’t have access to clean drinking water and it compelled him to do something.
Over the last 7 years, his team has raised over 8 million dollars and built freshwater wells to provide clean drinking water to over 280,000 people by educating and empowering middle school, high school, and college students. When Seth considered what was at stake, it compelled him to act despite any fears he might have had.
When your heart feels the weight of what’s at stake, you’ll push past fear and do whatever it takes.
You have to ask yourself, What’s at stake if you don’t act?
- Your marriage?
- Your children’s stability?
- Someone’s life?
- Someone’s soul?
- The happiness of another?
Sometimes the consequences are minimal, but other times what’s at stake is too great to not act.
Allow your WHY to compel you to action. Sit in the reality of what would happen if things continued to unfold as they are currently.
What you’ll find is that your fear will begin to change. The fear that stopped you will now compel you. You’ll stay awake at night afraid for those who need you to act. Your fear will no longer be for yourself, but for the benefit of others.
As a practical next step, here are a few questions you can ask yourself.
- If I don’t do _____, who is hurt?
- If I do______, who do I help?
- How is what I’m about to say helpful to others?
- How is what I’m about to do helpful to others?
Hint: If your goals and dreams aren’t for the benefit of others, I promise it won’t be very fulfilling.
4. Find joy in looking foolish
Those who are ruled by fear take themselves too seriously. The thought of looking foolish is a fate worse than death to many. I can say this, because I have been there. Most likely you have as well.
We tend to give such power over our lives to the perceptions people have of us. We believe that if we look foolish, then we are foolish. Our self worth can be so wrapped up in the idea that what people think about us is reality.
However, there is another way of seeing ourselves in a more positive light. We have the ability to change our perspective and find joy in looking foolish. Why? Because…
Cowards usually have nothing negative said about them, because they aren’t around to do anything. Though people may see you as foolish, you still took action when others did not. This you can be proud of.
Some of the most admired men and women of history were seen as foolish during their time. Honestly, some of their actions were foolish, but they found joy in them knowing progress demands foolish optimism . Over time, they learned from their mistakes and grew in wisdom, and with wisdom, foolish action can become effective success.
Looking foolish will happen and you don’t have to be crushed by it. On the contrary, you can find joy in it.
As young church leaders, one of the greatest lessons you can learn is finding joy in looking foolish for the Gospel. Be willing to look like a fool for Jesus. Finding this joy will set you free. It will set you free to…
- Stutter on stage so others can hear the Gospel
- Awkwardly introduce yourself to your neighbors so they might come to know Jesus through you
- Invest in the messy middle school student you have nothing in common with
- Pray in front of others
- Tell your story of Christ changing your life to co-workers
- Lead others when you feel completely inadequate.
Looking foolish for Jesus tells others you won’t be a coward for the Gospel. This, my friend, is what we call faith. Faith that God can use your weakness for His glory because…
What About You?
What would you add to the list? How are you learning to overcome fear in your life? What stood out to you most from what was said above? Comments are celebrated below!