How To Overcome The Fear Of Failure
If I may take a moment and be really transparent: I fight an internal battle where I am in constant fear of losing. I feel like I am losing students, parents, my family and the list goes on.
We carry enough burdens in ministry, and the fear of failure should not be one of them.
If you struggle with this constant feeling of failure, or you feel like you are always behind the eight ball, then I want to encourage you. God has you right where he wants you for this time in your life and in the lives of those he is using you to reach. There are also a few weapons that you can use to fight this fear.
Find your men (or women)
When I was in seminary, I had a professor who would always ask me, “How are your men?” What he actually wanted to know is who were the people in my life who were not only there for accountability, but the ones who were speaking life into me. This is extremely important for anybody, especially those of us in ministry. Sometimes church business is the ugliest business of all. We deal with rebellious teens, mad parents, pastors, elders and deacons all whom show their support by scrutinizing your every move. It is too much for any single person. We desperately need community.
Personally, I surround myself with other ministry leaders as well as non-ministry friends. The ministry friends are incredibly helpful when you need to simply vent, plus they know how to call you out and keep you humble. The non-ministry friends are so essential because they can always remind you of why your work is important. Most likely you already have a community around you, the key is to be intentional with those relationships. These people will love you through hardship, and will lean on you as they go through their own issues.
One good decision leads to another. Begin making good decisions, and you will feel much better than if you would have never made the first good decision. Spiritual disciples are, obviously, essential to maintain for every ministry leader, but I would argue that God blesses a holistic approach to being disciplined.
Physical and spiritual health are linked. You can see it in Scripture as well as in the lives of individuals who take these things seriously. Healthy eating habits build on themselves, as well as developing an exercise routine. That’s what we teach our students about their daily time with Jesus. Just start, and see how much better you feel.
Keeping a disciplined routine, and finding the rhythms of grace in your life will ultimately lead to escaping fear and doubt, and build self-assurance and confidence. Spend daily time with the Lord. Keep the Sabbath (it’s probably not Sunday for you). Have regular date nights with your spouse. Exercise regularly. Keep yourself disciplined.
Pray First, Pray Last
Before giving me any sort of advice, my dad always says, “Let me tell you something you already know…” That is basically what I am about to do with this third point. We have to always remember that our only success is obedience to the calling that God has placed on us. The growth of our students, our churches or anything else isn’t up to us, that’s God’s job.
Before we take the platform, before we have lunch with that student, before going into that school or whatever we are about to do for our ministry, we have to remind ourselves to lean on God to take control of the situation and leave the outcome to him. Prayer is how we back out of God’s way, and allow him to work.
We also need to pray last. After we step off the stage, leave that conversation or meeting, we need to remind ourselves that the rest is entirely up to God. So much of our fears are based on performance anxiety. When we pray for God to take our few loaves and fish, he’s the one that can multiply it. It doesn’t matter what our performance looks like, because we have a God who can take nothing and create an entire universe! Just think of what he can do with you.
Fighting the fear of failure can be a driving motivation for some people, but for many of us it cripples the life-giving nature of ministry, and it can cause us to forget about the message of grace and mercy that we are called to proclaim. The temptation is to turn our eyes from Jesus, and turn towards whatever gives us the numbers we need, or the smiling faces we want to see around us. Be encouraged, Jesus is greater!
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.