Do You Fear Failure?

“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear;

but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”

(2 Timothy 1:7)

We all have fears. It’s a fact of life. Some fears seem to be on a larger scale…fear of flying or heights, fear of driving, fear of leaving the house, etc. While some fears seem to be on a smaller scale…fear of speaking in front of people, fear of bugs/spiders, fear of taking tests, fear of getting into trouble, etc. There are healthy fears that are there to protect us…fear of walking on a dark street, fear that something might happen to our children, fear that we shouldn’t go in a certain direction. While other fears stop us from advancing forward…fear of advancing in our job, fear of getting married, fear of failing at whatever we do. Whatever the case, fear affects us all and we have to know how to control it before it takes control of us.

Fear goes back as far as Adam and Eve in Genesis 3, after Adam and Eve at the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (deceived by the serpent), they heard God walking in the garden. Genesis 3:9-10, states that Adam was “afraid”, But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.”

Adam and Eve would not have known about fear if they had not listened to and followed through with the deceptive words of the enemy. Once they ate the forbidden fruit, which looked good on the outside but had consequences once it was consumed, their eyes were opened to something it should never have been opened to. In fact, Eve’s eyes were opened to it even before she ate of the fruit. Part of the attack of the enemy was to get her to desire what she was not allowed to have. Once she desired it, she then ate of it, passed it along to her husband who also ate of it and now they both suffered the consequences. After this, came fear…fear of God seeing them naked. They weren’t afraid of God seeing them naked prior to eating the fruit. It was only after they sinned, by disobeying God’s command, did they experience fear.

There are many reasons we fear failure.  Below are a few:

  1. Lack of trust in God
  2. Rejection or being made fun of
  3. Being judged or criticized especially when we have a bad past history
  4. Perfectionism – we do not like to make mistakes
  5. Not meeting the expectations of others or worrying they will be angry
  6. Looking uneducated, as though we aren’t smart enough
  7. Feeling not good enough, comparing ourselves with others
  8. We’ve tried many times before and have failed

Sometimes we sabotage ourselves from advancing forward by talking ourselves right out of it and allowing the fearful thoughts to stop us in our tracks. Do you ever sabotage yourself? We can do this through procrastination, excessive anxiety, or failure to follow through with goals. Some people have grown up with so much criticism in their lives that they do not believe they can succeed or achieve anything in their life. They walk through life doing simply that…walking…and never putting forth the effort to improve or advance. They fear they will fail at anything they attempt and when they try, cutting words from other people begin to flood their minds “you will never accomplish anything” “You are useless” “You will never amount to anything” “You are stupid! Don’t you know anything?” “You will never be good at anything” “You’re lazy” “You’re a failure“. These are words that destroy, cut and cause failure to thrive and move forward. Words that simply are not true.

Why would someone say these words? There are some reasons:

1. Frustration – When a parent or another person is unable to find a successful way to motivate their child   (or employee) to advance and succeed, these words will come out due to frustration over the situation.

2. Its been said to them – Many times we say the same words to others that were said to us and we have never gotten over it. Because we may have failed at something, we pass the negativity on to others causing them to feel the same pain we feel.

3. A lack of joy – when someone lacks joy within themselves and is unable to fix how they feel, they will say cutting remarks to others.

4. They become a product of their own environment and feel that’s just the way it is and there is no way out and pass that on to others.

Though none of these reasons are valid reasons for speaking them to others, the knowledge of “why” can assist in the healing process. Sometimes when we know why something was done, it can give us a clearer perspective of the situation and help us to see past the surface to what is really there. Where we see someone as cruel, after knowing the “why” we may understand that person a little better and why they say or do what they do. Again, this doesn’t mean it was right. It simply means that knowledge can break down barriers, remove false perceptions and bring healing. However, when healing, we can’t spend a lot of time trying to figure out the “whys”. If you are unable to find out, this is where you must surrender the pain to God and allow Him to heal you from it. This is where you must ask Him to help you to forgive that person(s).

Though fear is common, we must realize that when we allow it to consume us and prohibit growth both spiritually and emotionally, it can become a sin just like anything else. In Matthew 25:14-30 Jesus gives the parable of the Talents. It speaks about a master who traveled. He gave his three servants talents, which was currency at the time. They were to multiply it. He gave five talents to one servant, two talents to the next servant, and one talent to the third servant. All of the talents were given according to their ability. When the master returned after a long trip, he met with his three servants to settle accounts with them. The first two servants reported that they had doubled the talents he gave to them. The master said in verses 21 and 23,‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’

However, the third servant became afraid saying in verse 24, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here, you have what is yours.’

 His master replied in verses 26-30: ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

So, how does this apply to us now? The talent can represent our skills, abilities and gifts that God has given to us. As this scripture is speaking about money, it implies that investing, not hoarding, is the godly thing to do as it accomplishes God’s purpose in a godly manner. The two servants who doubled their talents were considered trustworthy “Well done, good and trustworthy servant” and more was given to them. However, the servant that allowed fear to overcome him and hid the talent in the ground instead of multiplying or at least investing it to get some return, was considered wicked and slothful (lazy). Due to his fear, he never attempted to do more. He just hid what he had in the ground and considered himself doing well just to return the one talent to his master. Also, he didn’t seem to know his master well enough. He only saw him as hard. Yet when we see the master with the other two servants who attempted to do the job and succeeded, not allowing the wrong type of fear to stop them, the master lovingly rewarded them for their efforts. Sometimes we see God as a hard person full of punishment but never allow ourselves to experience His love and mercy that He has for us. Instead, we become like the third servant. We allow fear of failure to misdirect us and we talk ourselves out of even trying. We fear a bad outcome or the anger of another person. When we allow this to happen and we hide our “talents” in the ground, never even attempting to utilize it for the glory of God, we never get to see the outcome or “what could have been”. Instead, we only allow ourselves to see the worst. If God cannot trust us with little, how do we expect Him to trust us with a lot? This scripture also shows, if you don’t use it, you will lose it. The third servant didn’t utilize what his master had given to him so it was taken away from him and given to another. It’s like exercise. If we stop exercising our bodies, eventually we lose all the muscle and will find it hard to do the simplest of things. We must continue trying and not fear the outcome.

Remember, the master gave each servant according to their ability. God isn’t going to give you more than you are able to do. This would be setting you up for failure. Sometimes we allow ourselves or others to determine how much we can do and therefore do more than we should and work too much, burning out, or we don’t work hard enough. We must allow God to set the pace and the amount. We must work as though working for the Lord and not for man. Colossians 3:23 states:

And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.”

Galatians 1:10 states:

“For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.”

These scriptures do not mean we disrespect other people and not work hard for our employers, families, etc. It simply means that when we do our work as though working for the Lord, we can look forward to receiving our heavenly reward. We will have a better outlook on our job and we will strive to please God instead of always trying to please man whom we know can never fully be pleased.

There are many successful people who have tried and failed many times until they got it right and succeeded. But imagine if they hadn’t kept trying and quit. Below are only a few:

Abraham Lincoln – He failed in business three times and failed campaigning seven times prior to becoming President of the United States.

Albert Einstein – He did not speak until he was four years old. His parents thought he was “sub-normal”. He was expelled from school and his teachers described him as “mentally slow”.

Thomas Edison – His teachers told him he was “too stupid to learn anything”.

Henry Ford – He was a failure at three businesses before finally succeeding with Ford Motor Company at age 53.

Col. Sanders (KFC) – He couldn’t sell his chicken. More than 1000 restaurants rejected him.

In order to succeed, we must suffer through failures. It brings perseverance and determination. We learn from our mistakes, what works and what doesn’t. God uses our failures to build us up and grow us spiritually. We must not allow the words of others to stop us unless we are causing danger and harm to ourselves or others.

Overcoming Fear of Failure

So how do we overcome our fear of failure? Below are some changes you can make in your life. It will take time so don’t become discouraged if you haven’t mastered everything in a week. Seek God daily and get His direction because He is the one you are truly working for and need to please. Remember, Romans 12:2 states, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” We must renew our minds and think differently in order to change.

 – Realize we are not created equal with the same gifts, talents and abilities. God has given to you what you are capable of handling. Trust that God will help you to achieve whatever you do for Him.

 – Stop comparing yourself with others. Again we do not all have the same gifts, talents and abilities.

 – Be determined to use the talent God has given you to the best of your ability to glorify God. Work as though you are working for Jesus whether He is watching or not (if He can trust you in small things, He will be able to trust you in big things).

 – Realize that failure isn’t the end. No prize fighter wins his first, second or third match. He continues learning, training and fighting until he wins that match and then he repeats those steps to be able to win more matches. Let failure make you determined to succeed.

 – Realize that people put more emphasis on our failures and inabilities than God does. God simply asks us to do our best and to trust in Him that He will supply you with what you need to be able to accomplish the mission.

Philippians 4:13 – “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”

 – Wake up every morning thinking “whether I succeed or fail, I will give it my best to glorify God.” Then live it.

 – Realize that fear is healthy until it stops you from doing what God wants you to do. Also realize that fear is one of the enemy’s greatest weapons causing you to think about the worst case scenarios instead of the positive things that could come from this experience. He will utilize it so that it will stunt your spiritual growth and prohibit you from doing what God has called you to do and receive what God wants to give to you. It’s time to stand up and say “no” to fear.

 – Face fear head on with God, trusting that He will get you through it. If he brought you to it, He will get you through it.

Take some time to think about the areas of your life that fear prohibits you from trying. It doesn’t matter what your situation is or where you’ve come from. Be determined to renew your mind and change, allowing God to direct and lead you. Believe that you are everything that God has created you to be and realize that somewhere along the way, you got derailed like a train on the tracks. A derailment means a vehicle has run off its rails but it doesn’t necessarily mean its run off its tracks. Though many derailments are minor, all result in a temporary disruption of service and can be hazardous to the health and safety of people. Usually a train derails due to a collision with another object, an error in operation, a mechanical failure of tracks or the wheels. However, in emergency situations, a deliberate derailment is sometimes caused to prevent a more serious accident. Maybe you started off derailing because you collided with someone who led you in the wrong direction or you didn’t know how to handle a situation and you ran instead of facing it. Or maybe you allowed your emotions to move and direct you which caused you to derail and get into one big accident not only harming yourself but those around you. Whatever the reason, something went wrong. Maybe something hidden and unseen caused you to derail but that doesn’t mean you can’t get back on track. Remember, sometimes a derailment is done intentionally by someone to avoid a more serious accident down the road. Imprisonment may have been part of your derailment to avoid something worse down the road that could have caused even more harm to you and to others even when you think it couldn’t possibly get any worse. Yes it can and God will do what He has to in order to get us to think about what we’ve done, where we’re going and the possible outcomes. He wants us to change and will provide every chance for us to do so. It’s up to us to take that chance, to surrender our fears to Him and to be who He has created us to be.

Seek God today and ask Him who He created you to be. Then ask Him to remove your fears and to help you to succeed. Now take the next step and believe.