One of the most common things I see in even the strongest and most effective leaders is the fear of failure. It doesn’t matter how competitive or self-confident a person is, the fear of failure can still be debilitating. When the fear of failure is overwhelming, people can lack motivation to move forward. In fact, the fear of failure can cause a person to give up their entire career or ministry.
Today, I want to discuss the fear of failure and share with you how it can actually become one of your greatest motivators when you learn to balance it correctly.
Failure is part of life. The only way to avoid failure is to never try anything significant. When we give in to the fear of failure, we easily lose motivation and energy. The fear of failure is usually difficult for people to recognize on their own; it is a blind spot for most people. I want to give you a few questions to ask yourself so that you can recognize the fear of failure in your life.
First of all, do you consider yourself a realist? Do you accept things as they are, or do you to try to put a positive spin on everything? If you’re more of a realist and you tend to focus on the problems you are facing, you probably have a fear of failure.
Do you look for what can go wrong in a situation, or are you occasionally blindsided by problems in what you’re doing or working toward? If you generally look for what can go wrong in a situation, you probably have a fear of failure.
When you make a mistake, fail on your first attempt, or you don’t do things exactly like you would have liked, do you become anxious and nervous, believing you will never succeed? If so, you may regularly experience the fear of failure.
Do you often find yourself stalled in decision making, especially when you’re tired and stressed or when you have to make a big decision? If so, then you might have a fear of failure.
Reality is that most people who want to be the best version of themselves often struggle with the fear of failure to some degree. These types of people often ask themselves, “What if I fail? What if I can’t make it? What if I don’t have what it takes to last? What if I make the wrong decisions?” The fear of failure is an awareness of the possibility that you may not finish well. If you struggle with the fear of failure, welcome to the world of doing something great with your life. It’s normal to fear failure from time to time. You have no reason to fear failure if you’re not doing anything significant with your life.
The key to making the fear of failure a positive thing is to find a sense of balance in your mind. If you fear failure too much, you can easily become stalled in your progress, feel scared to dream big, lack motivation and energy to move forward, and even put limits on what God can do through your leadership and ministry.
It’s also possible to not fear failure enough. I do realize that scripture says, “God hath not given us the spirit of fear” (2 Timothy 1:7), but not having an appropriate fear of failure can leave you feeling unmotivated to work hard and prevent you from establishing and maintaining the good routines that are required to get big things done. It can also cause you to avoid important tasks like anticipating and preparing for problems; you won’t be able to finish strong or accomplish the God-given vision that you see in your future. Having an adequate balance of the fear of failure is important to maintaining the motivation that’s necessary to keep moving forward with the significant things in your life.
It’s important to understand the promises in the Bible when we think about failure. Jeremiah 29:11-13 says, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.” God’s thoughts toward us pertain to peace. They are not evil thoughts; He does not want to drag us through the mud, causing us failure and humiliation. God has an expected end for us. He listens to us when we pray, and He is tuned in to what we experience.
You must truly seek God with your whole heart and abide in Him if you want to work through your fear of failure and create a sense of balance in your mind. Give all the results of your future to God, and He will direct you; you can trust Him with your life. If you do fail at something, and we all do from time to time, trust that God is with you. He will use your failure for good in your future; He can use your failures to accomplish your God-given vision and bring you an expected end.
Something you are completely convinced you can accomplish is probably not a vision God has given you. A vision you are one-hundred percent positive you can succeed at is too easy. However, a vision that you are only sixty percent convinced you can accomplish is a big, God-sized vision. Ask yourself this question, “Does it seem a little scary to accomplish the vision that I feel the Lord has given me? Does it feel like a 60/40 vision?” In other words, “Is there a forty percent chance that I will fail at this?” If so, then let that motivate you to step out in faith.
We can’t let the fear of failure prevent us from taking any action, and we also can’t let the lack of fear cause us to become lackadaisical or deplete our energy and motivation to do something big. Somehow, we need to create a 60/40 mindset and prayerfully trust God and His involvement in our lives. If we do this, we will begin to accomplish big things for Jesus. Learn to let the fear of failure motivate your faith to move forward rather than harm your progress.
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