Updated: Jun 30
What are you avoiding because you are afraid of what might happen? Anxiety, or living with a “what if” mindset, will always derail your growth as a follower and leader - especially if you deny it and shrink back. Truly courageous servant leaders learn how to hold the tension between uncertainty and faith, fear and action, by seeking guidance, then relinquishing any and all outcomes.
If we constantly revert back to spinning a darker story of what’s possible, then we don’t allow God to meet us in our fears and walk with us through them. In other words, if we are honest with ourselves and ask for help, He comes to us! Psalm 34:4 reads:
“God met me more than halfway, he freed me from my anxious fears.”
Scripture is full of examples of “fear-full” leaders for us to learn from. Although King Saul started out as a humble kid, it wasn’t long before he began taking matters into his own hands. Instead of waiting for Samuel, the priest, to arrive and offer the sacrifice as promised, he was “compelled” to do it himself because he was afraid. His enemies were gathering for attack and his own people were deserting. He was running out of time and exposed on every level - from his physical person to his reputation. Sadly, he reacted by jumping the gun and making the sacrifice himself. As a result, God removed his mantle of leadership.
I can think of so many times when fear and anxiety have triggered a reaction I regret. All leaders know this reality well, but don’t talk about it enough. We are more likely to put on a brave face. Unlike Saul, my choices have usually involved hiding and avoidance; for others, fear leads to rushing blindly ahead. Fear feels to me like an enemy I can’t see, surrounding me on all sides. Like Job, even the light seems imperceptible, although it’s still there and can never be vanquished.
When we were living in Arizona I often walked the remote trails through South Mountain at sunset with our dog, Abby while my youngest daughter Taylor ran ahead. One evening about a mile from home, I crossed a low-lying riverbed when a pack of coyotes began howling over a kill. I was surrounded and alone in the desert mountains. My sanctuary became a prison. Abby and I huddled against a rock and I tried texting my husband, but service was spotty. All of a sudden over the ridge I saw my 15-year Taylor running toward us. She heard the pack behind her and was worried about our safety.
Out of great love, she was fearless in coming to find us.
Believe me, I don’t create risks. I will never scuba dive, sky dive or rock climb. That said, I have had some scary things happen to me. When I was younger I literally came face to face with a bear in the woods, was washed down a river without my raft and dislocated my kneecap, huddled through a class 4 hurricane, and was left by my first husband at age 22. These experiences have enlarged me, helped me realize I am courageous simply because I survived them, and still hike, swim and travel. I even remarried! We all flip into flight, fight or freeze when threatened. It’s normal, but not when it comes to following Christ. He doesn’t expect us to vanquish our fears, but step over them and walk toward him.
Sometimes he even uses our greatest fears to deliver us from hiding.
I’m 52 years old today and still learning to face my fears and work through them, although they center more around character, values and identity than physical confrontations or challenges. I am not exactly "fearless" - but I am fear-LESS. Despite occasional anxiety and doubt, I have become a risk taker, even if I am not a risk maker. I don’t create situations that produce stress, but I am obedient to accept them. And my mission is to help other women do the same. The Holy Spirit has empowered me to step over my fears in many situations that require courage and conviction, including:
Starting my own businesses
Reaching out to women I admire
Forgiving those who have hurt and betrayed me
Spending time alone with God, rather than getting busy when I feel insecure
Sharing my faith
Quitting my dream job (twice) because of conflicts with my core values
Telling my intimate stories of success and failure to thousands, to encourage, empower and equip others to know Christ
What are you anxious to step into? Nothing holds us back more than fear. If you are struggling and feel paralyzed, be encouraged that like my daughter coming back to find me, Jesus will enter the canyon and face down anything to find you. Let’s also commit to being a courageous community that faces challenges together and moves forward with boldness wherever we are called. Even if you aren’t a risk-maker, you can be a risk-taker!
Go to benewlifestyle.com for opportunities to grow in courage and faith so you can fulfill your callings.