When I look backwards over the years I have already lived, I realize many of my decisions have been driven by fear.
In high school I skipped cheerleader tryouts, even though my older sister’s friend on the cheer squad promised to coach me. I changed my choice of colleges because I was fearful of sharing a dorm room with a stranger. I did not set up interviews for certain jobs for I feared fumbling the questions.
Fear of failure, fear of “looking stupid,” fear of negative criticism. All can push us back, push us down, push us away from goals and dreams. Yet the fear really has no power. We choose to push back to gain control over the situation. It is difficult to step out, to become vulnerable, when the outcome is not guaranteed. And so, we often take the safe, secure route. The route we can control.
The Apostle Paul told Timothy, a young man he mentored, “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” [2 Tim 1:7 NKJV]
In this Scripture, fear is “deilia” in the original Greek, which means to lack boldness or be timid. Such an attitude is not of God. In my case I was relying on self-confidence instead of God confidence. We are stunted when we don’t step forward, because we grow by experience. We really do get better with practice. And that means going through the hard tryouts, social situations, and interviews.
God gives us power, “dunamis” in the Greek, which means to be able to achieve. God gives us love, or “agape,” so we have affectionate regard for others. God gives us a sound mind, which is “sophronizo,” defined as “the discipline to think and act soberly, discreetly, and in moderation or handle ourselves well in an unfamiliar situation.”1
We have the ability, the motivation, and the self-control to step forward, take a chance, see what God will do. When we hold back to hold on to that feeling of security, we stunt our growth. We allow ourselves to be less than.
Are you allowing yourself to be less than God created you to be by taking the safe, secure path? Merriam-Webster dictionary defines secure as “free from loss or risk.”2 But that pertains to the physical realm. In the spiritual realm, staying safe may cause us to miss an opportunity to make a difference in the Kingdom of God, or gain skills we need to serve at a later time and place all because we are unwilling to take a risk.
I think of great missionaries such as Amy Carmichael who is known for her work in India at Dohnaveur Fellowship, which she founded in 1901 as a home for rescued children. She took a risk and moved from Ireland to India.
Without explorers, those willing to leave the security of the known and sail oceans, the world would not have been mapped. And there are those risk takers who were inventors, such as the Wright brothers known for developing the airplane.
What is God calling you to do that requires stepping forward rather than taking a step back? Cover it in prayer and take a chance.
Contemplate Your Ways:
1-Is there currently anything you are avoiding because it makes you unsure or uncomfortable? What do you fear?
2-While decisions should always be guided by God, we can take the safe and secure route to keep everything in our control. What control issues do you need to relinquish to God?
1-The Complete Word Study Dictionary New Testament edition edited by Spiros Zodhiates Th.D. published by AMG International, Inc.