How To Overcome The Fear of Failure
How to overcome the Fear of failure
The number one fear men have is failure. This fear can manifest in a number of different ways. One of the most predominant ways this fear can appear is through the fear of man, which is the fear of the opinions of other people. The questions that arise in our heads whenever we face fear are:
- “What will they think?”
- “What will they say?”
- “What if it doesn't work out?”
- “What if I fail?”
We're going to learn what the Bible has to say, and we are going to see from the words of Jesus what we have to do to overcome the fear of failure.
The research shows the number one fear that all men have is this fear of failure. It can manifest in a number of different ways. If you say that you don't have any fear in your life, if there's nothing that you are afraid to do, if you don't wrestle or struggle with the fear of failure, to some degree, I'm going to challenge you and tell you you're probably playing small. You're probably not going all in. If you're not stretching yourself, if you're not getting uncomfortable and you're not putting yourself in those situations that require you to man up and step out and use more faith in that area that you know, you need to press out into.
The number one way fear manifests in my life and I believe this is a common theme and a lot of men's lives is this fear of man, this fear of what are people going to think of me? What if I fail? It's all connected with failure. We worry about what's the perception going to be and this connected with our need for status, our need for image and how we measure up in terms of perception. We care about how we're perceived. We care about our reputation. We care about showing up the right way. Showing any perceived weakness make many men nervous because we're not comfortable and we're not confident.
Many guys are wearing masks. They're armored up to cover up those insecurities, those failures, those fears of letting people too close for fear of you may see that ‘I'm not totally the man I'm trying to project that I am.’ I want to share this powerful quote with you. It really impacted me and set me free in a number of different ways. And the quote is this.
“If I don't live for the praises of men, then I will not die by their criticisms.” - Bill Johnson
Think about that for a minute. If we are not living for the applause of men and to hear their praises, if that's not our driving force and the driving fuel for our mission in everything we do in life, then it won't matter if they criticize us because their criticisms won't matter. Let's look at this in the context of the kingdom of God.
The Christian life cannot be divorced from the cross. You cannot have Christianity without the cross. If you call yourself a Christian, if you're submitted to the government of God, and the kingdom of God is ruling and reigning in your life, then there is a cross you must submit to in your life. This can also be looked at as a co-crucifixion, this is what Paul called it in Romans chapter 6. This death represents, first of all, living unto ourselves, living for our selfish desires, for the things that are in our heart for the promotional needs that we have. Secondly, it also applies to the opinions of other people. Ask yourself:
Are you living for yourself?
Are you living to please people around you have you become a people pleaser, have you become someone that always needs to seek the validation of others?
In Galatians 2:20, Paul is writing to the church here and he's telling them that they are co-crucified.
"My old identity has been co crucified with the Messiah and no longer lives for the nails of his cross, crucified me with him. And now the essence of this new life is no longer mine for the anointed one. Jesus lives His life through me, we live in union as one. My new life is empowered by the faith of the Son of God who loves me so much that he gave himself for me and dispenses his life into mine."
We have this image that Paul is presenting that we are co-crucified. If you are co-crucified, if you are dead in Christ, your old nature, living for yourself, living for the opinions of other people is literally nailed to the cross, that's what co crucifixion represents. Then we are not to live for the opinions of other people, for the fears in our hearts that hold us back from stepping into the fullness of everything that God is calling us to be. If you want to go deeper into this, in Romans chapter 6, Paul will unpack this co-crucifixion to a greater degree. He's actually going to say we're co-crucified. We're also co-buried and we are co-resurrected. However, the co-crucified life means I am dead to the opinions of others. It doesn't matter what they say or what they think I'm not living for their opinions or for their validation. I'm living for an audience of one. This audience of one is Jesus. When we live our lives for him, through him and to him that is the only thing that matters in the landscape of eternity.
Fear of Failure
Failure is always associated with risk because if there's no risk and there's no chance of failing, we're playing small. If you don't have any fear, if you're not stretching yourself, if you're not constantly pushing yourself to the next level to get uncomfortable, whether that's in the domain of your fitness, whether that's in the domain of your work, stretching yourself, pushing yourself, and even in the domain of your faith doing things you've never done before and to step out into an area that will require faith in God, then you're probably not living a life that's playing big. It will be a clear indication that you're playing small if you've eliminated all the risk from your life.
I used the phrase ‘stepping out’ and you've probably heard it before,
“Hey, are you stepping out? Have you stepped out? You need to step out.”
Let's look at where we get this metaphor from. It can be found in Matthew chapter 14 in the story of Jesus walking on the waves and Peter stepping out of the boat to meet Jesus. The winds are raging and the waves are raging. The disciples are in the middle of a lake in a boat by themselves. All of the sudden they look out and they catch Jesus in their line of sight. They see him walking on the waves and the Bible says they were terrified when they see Jesus. He yells out to them and says,
“Be brave, do not be afraid”
Now let's look at this really closely because the disciples are seeing Jesus and Peter is there and he's watching and they're all astonished, they're all in awe as they are watching Jesus walking on the water, however, something comes alive in Peter, they're all watching Jesus, but Peter lights up.
He's literally lit up in his soul when he sees the supernatural. When he sees Jesus walking on the waves he's fully ignited and he asks in this sudden outburst;
“I want to come out and I want to join you!”
Jesus says, go for it, come out and join me.
Peter steps up in this moment of faith. He's fully ignited, he's fully on fire and he steps out of the boat and starts walking on the water in pursuit of Jesus. Now let's point out here, there were 12 men in the boat and only one had the courage to risk it. Only one had the courage to think what his heart was really telling him to do. He was getting stirred internally and he said, wow, this is my chance. This is my opportunity. I'm going to step out.
Do you know what that meant? Eleven men sat there passively and watched Peter step out of the boat and go after his dream in that moment. So, let's just recognize Peter for the courage and for taking a massive risk. He steps out he pursues Jesus. He's bold enough to articulate what I'm going to guess was in the hearts of the other disciples.
Is there something that you want to go after that other people are just on the sidelines watching, and maybe you're there right now, but you feel this need, you feel this urge, you feel this ignition within your spirit, that you have to step out and you have to go for it. I want to encourage you just like Peter, he didn't care about the opinions of men, he didn't care about the opinions or the thoughts, or what are the other guys going to think of me?
I guarantee you, they were probably watching him saying, I wish that was me. I wish I had the courage to step up and step out. Peter also risks enormous failure here. He could have gotten shut down by Jesus. It is a bold question to say, can I join you? You know, the other disciples, might've thought, who do you think you are? But this guy risks it all, and he says, Jesus, can I join you? He could have been told, Hey, not right now, this is not for you, this is not your time. He also could have failed and we know that he did. He took a few steps, he did really well, he was moving in faith, and then all of the sudden he saw his circumstances and he falls into the water.
He starts strong and he ends up failing, and when he fails, Jesus is there to train him. Jesus is there to lift him up and Jesus is there to power him. Later in life, Peter will not fail. He will go through training periods. He will take risks. He will fall down. But if we fast forward from Matthew chapter 14 to Acts chapter 2, Peter is found standing in front of 3000 people, boldly proclaiming the gospel with power. So this man took risks. This man grew from those risks. This man got uncomfortable. This man stepped out.
There is a concept within the Bible that I want to bring to your attention. It is a phrase that I've always been fascinated by. When God spoke to Old Testament prophets He often says:
Set Your Face like a Flint
When the prophet Isaiah prophesies about Jesus, he says that “he will set his face like a flint.” The definition of a flint is a stone. “It's a very hard dark rock. And it's used figuratively in the Bible to express hardness as in firmness. It's actually referenced to horses’ hooves. It's the toughness of an impossible task and the inflexibility of unwavering determination.”
We see this figuratively use with many prophets in the Old Testament. When you see ‘set your face like a flint,’ it is a figure of speech that the prophets use to describe the Messiah. Jesus’ unwavering, determination to persevere in the excruciating task that was set before him. Setting your face like a flint has to do with crushing fear. There is no fear of man. If you're setting your face like a flint towards that area that God's called you to step out in.
3 Key’s to Overcome Fear
Assess where you have fear in your life. Are you playing small? I want you to do an assessment and look a little bit deeper, get underneath it and ask yourself, where am I playing small? Where can I challenge myself? Where can I step up? and where can I step out into the unknown, into that place that makes me uncomfortable. Here's the question I want you to ponder right now is:
what will that look like for you?
It's going to be different for everyone. So I'm not here to tell you what it is, but I'm here to tell you to seek it, to ask the Lord about it. You may know right now as your reading that this is confirmation for what you are supposed to pursue. That thing that's been in your heart that you have been thinking about and praying about. Perhaps this is a confirmation word for you. Take it.
Stepping out is not for you. It's not for your sense of ambition. It's not for your sense of pride. It's not for you to say I did it. I powered through. Look how great I am, I feel so accomplished. Now, there will be a sense of accomplishment when you do step out, but let's keep this in perspective. It's not our human will. It's not our human power or ingenuity that makes us amazing. If we go out and we do something, we need to be able to give the glory to God because we are co crucified with him. So if we're co crucified with him, stepping out in order and in pursuit of something God's calling you to is most likely going to mean that you're submitting your flesh. You're pressing down that area of pride, that area of ego and you're pushing that down and denying your flesh to do something that's going to glorify God. It's going to be something that you can't attain on your own willpower. Even though I'm telling you guys it's not to fulfill our sense of accomplishment. I want you to be expecting and surprised at how God will work through you. It is amazing what God wants to do through you and how He wants to use you. It is our right as a son to reflect the image of our Father and do amazing things with Him.
Whenever you're stepping out into the unknown, keep your eyes on Jesus. Put him first. Peter literally had Jesus in his sight when he stepped out of the boat and he had to keep Jesus in front of him at all times. And we know that he failed because he looked at his circumstances. He looked at the size of the waves. He took his eyes off Jesus. He started looking at, we could even say it was the opinions of men. We started with the number one fear of failure and the fear of man. And it could also represent the circumstances we are facing, what are others thinking? What are the disciples thinking? What are they thinking over there? What if I fail? And when Peter starts to do that, that's when he starts to fail.
You should never apologize for what you’re doing as you’re pursuing God and His will for your life. So who cares what they think, who cares, what they say. I just want to encourage you to go after that dream that's in your heart, that God given dream, that you feel the Lord telling you to stretch and push for run after it. Let's press in and let's pursue the upward call in Christ.
Let's raise the Standard