I specifically remember a time when I was 9th grade where I was taking a test using one of those scantron sheets where you would fill in the blank on multiple choice questions (by the way did anyone figure out yet the idea that C is the best answer to choose when guess-answering a question on a multiple choice test? Because I have been telling people that for years) and not having the guts to tell the person next to me that they couldn’t cheat. With clear directions from the teacher that people who are helping other people cheat, my brain raced with ways in which I could please both the struggling student wanting to copy my answers and the teacher who did not tolerate lying. My fear of failing people was so strong that the only thought that came to my brain was allowing for my classmate to cheat off my answers and then as he turned in his paper go back and erase my entire sheet of paper and fill in the blanks with the correct answers on some of the questions I purposefully answered wrong.
I know exactly what you’re thinking but before you give me a dirty look through a screen on your fancy iPad let me just tell you that the fear of man is strong within me. There is something about living for people’s approval and clinging onto their words that has always fueled me. I’m learning however, that as much as I get fueled by the praise I might receive from pleasing people, I have also been rejected, torn down and completely felt like a failure for not meeting every person’s demands or expectations. Is it a sin to love on others and serve them? Absolutely not. Is it a sin when pleasing people around you becomes an obsession? Absolutely yes. Why is it be a sin to always be the yes man you ask? Because at the heart of the issue you become the man or woman who will always say yes out of fear for displeasing someone.
“If you live for people’s acceptance you will die from their rejection.” Lecrae
The Bible calls this the “fear of man” which is a need in your life for approval found in others instead of God. This can be one of the greatest road-blocks to serving the Lord because of how deceptive this mindset can be. Making sure I have a good image is important right? Loving people always and being available for them every waking moment is what I’m called to do as a Christian right? Feeling needed is important in my life right? The truth is at the root of what we’re dealing with, we become people who are over committed, have low self-esteem, and are always second guessing decisions because of what other people might think. This is where my God comes in because none of us we’re meant to live for other people. We have the opportunity to be called to bigger things, to serve and glorify someone else who loves us unconditionally and that someone is God. Be encouraged and know that God doesn’t want you to settle with your life being a roller coaster of pleasing everyone and then disappointing everyone. You can be free and love a God who doesn’t want you to live in fear. Here are a few tips I’ve picked up along the way that are still helping me deal with this issue that is so personal to me.
Face the Fear
“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” – James 5:16
In order to overcome struggles, I have to confess that I have them first. Pray over your fear and expose it for the sin that it is. Dig into the roots of why you behave or make decisions the way you do and ask yourself if your heart is in seeking a deep love for Jesus. Being obedient to God is living in faith not fear. Face your fear and trust that God is doing big things in your life!
In God I have put my trust; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?”- Psalm 56:11.