At one time or another, God has said to most of his leaders, “Fear not.” God called them, inspired them, gave them vision, filled them with His Spirit, performed untold miracles, and fought untold battles for them. We have good reasons to believe. But, often we don’t. Why? Why does a seasoned pastor fear sharing the gospel with an unbeliever? Why does a grown man fear a hard conversation with his child? Why are we afraid to ask others for help? We are fallen. We are not 100% totally secure in who we are or who He is. Therefore, we give others more say than God would have us to give. It is called fear of man. While fear of man can take on many forms, here are three specific areas of ministry where it rears its ugly head nearly every time and how I am learning to deal with it.
Fear of Rejection in Evangelism
As a church planter, evangelism is part of the job. It’s an aptitude scored on every assessment. If you are a church planter and cannot overcome your fear of man when it comes to asking someone to repent and believe the gospel, your church is will undoubtedly stagnate.
I have asked hundreds of people to repent and believe the gospel, but it is still scary. I still get nervous driving to a meeting where I know I must ask them about their relationship with Jesus. Here is what I have learned: the transition is the hardest. Once I get into the gospel, I know what to do and how to talk about it; it’s getting to the gospel that’s the struggle.
What can we do? First, just get right to it. When I meet someone new, I will often ask, “So, are you a Christian?” Second, give them the opportunity to make the first move. For example, on our Connect Card are the options “I want learn more about becoming a Christian” and “I want to be baptized.” If a new guest checks one of those boxes, I am addressing it with them that day in person or texting them to set up a meeting. They have made the first move. All I have to say is, “So I see you checked this box on your connect card.” From there, they share their story and I share Jesus.
Fear of Conflict in Leadership Development
If you are a parent, business owner, team leader, or pastor/planter, you will have to confront people on your team. You are a leader—confrontation comes with the job. People aren’t perfect and they will screw up. And so will you. And just like you, they need to be told when the fail, or they are destined to fail again.
How cruel would it be to go on letting a kid spell “cat” with a “k”? Of course you would correct them! But, with adults, we all too often give way to fear of man in all of its subsidiary forms (fear of rejection, fear of conflict, fear of failure, fear of push-back) and wait far too long to say something. Or worse, we say nothing at all and just use someone, tolerate the toxicity, hoping to find someone who can naturally do the job better. Here is what I have to remember: God doesn’t deal with us that way. He confronts us immediately. We should do likewise. Brian Bowman says it like this: “That thing that I am afraid to do is the first thing I need to do.” Just run at it and get it over with.
A word of caution, however. If there is no trust in the relationship, the confrontation will not be healthy. Patrick Lencioni has written extensively on this and I would highly recommend getting a copy of The Five Dysfunctions of a Team and/or The Advantage. (Both are available at Amazon or where business books are sold.)
Fear of Failure in Fundraising
I hate asking for money. It weirds me out. Every. Single. Time. I would much rather ask for money on behalf of someone else. So, I get paralyzed, and shy, and embarrassed about what I am asking for.
But, when I remember to ask God first, I am better positioned both emotionally and philosophically. Here is what I mean. When like a dependent child, I ask my gracious, good, and loving Dad first, I remove independence from the equation. It’s hard to be proud if you aren’t independent. Childlike faith is confident dependence. Oh, and Jesus says you can’t enter the kingdom without it. Furthermore, I remember that I am asking for someone else. I am asking for God! He wants His church to succeed. We are just his mouthpieces. He is building His church. With that in mind, I can confidently ask others to get in on what God is already doing.
Featured image credit, edited for size.