By Katie Pearson
“For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” 2 Timothy 1:6-7
One of the greatest obstacles leaders face is fear: fear of criticism, rejection, making a mistake, disappointing God, or looking stupid. For the most part, fear doesn’t disappear with experience; it just changes forms. We can have a spirit of courage and still be afraid. Whether you struggle from low-level anxiety or outright terror, it doesn’t disqualify you; instead, it reveals that you are human and need an all-powerful God.
If you desire to make a difference in someone’s life, help them face their fears and move forward with Jesus. Normalize the emotion, but then encourage faith-based action. Empathize with them: Yes, it’s scary and hard, but with God, all things are possible (Matthew 19:26). Remind them that God will impart the courage needed to move forward despite fear (Deuteronomy 31:6).
Furthermore, remind those who are shrinking back that God’s anointing is on them and the Holy Spirit is in them. What else do we need? I love to help people discover their spiritual gifts and put them into practice, to help them develop holy confidence over self-confidence. Celebrate their successes and point out when you see God’s power at work. Finally, when fear does get the upper hand and someone you walk alongside cowers or runs, get to them immediately. Pray together, explore what happened, and encourage them, reminding them that new opportunities to live out these truths await. Courage is a muscle that must be strengthened over time and through practice.
Of course, your example of “fear-less” leadership is critical. Remember, fearless doesn’t mean the absence of fear; it’s simply less fear than you would have without Jesus. Share your own experiences with anxiety and how God carried you forward. Scripture is also full of very human, yet bold, leaders who can offer inspiration! Nehemiah took months to ask the king if he could return to Jerusalem (Nehemiah 2:1–10). Isaiah was afraid to serve as Israel’s mouthpiece because of his “unclean lips” (Isaiah 6:5). Gideon hid from Israel’s enemies (Judges 6–7), and Esther was afraid to reveal to the king that she was a Jew (Esther 4). The list goes on. Yet, every time we choose to act courageously despite our fear, our faith increases. The most courageous step we can take is to do it afraid.
Reflection: Holy Spirit, thank you for infusing Scripture with many examples of men and women who trusted God despite their fear. I pray for the strength to face my fears in faith and the vulnerability to share my moments of cowardice so that you might be glorified. Amen. We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Why is trust so difficult? Unlike all the broken promises of this world, God’s redeeming promises are absolute, trustworthy, and true. The covenants of God afford us with abundant reasons to trust God with his plan for our lives. Trusting God: Redeeming Promises of the Word small group Bible study explores the six major redeeming promises of God found in his Word. Learn more about God’s commitment to his people, the nature of a covenant, and how you can find your security in being a child of God’s redeeming promises. Learn more about God’s promises today.
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