This past Sunday, I had the opportunity to hear a sermon focused on fear. I learned that some people in the congregation are afraid of spiders, some of clowns, others of heights, and one man even admitted his fear of his wife. I listened to everyone shouting out their answers to the simple question “What are you afraid of?” disappointed with many of the answers. It wasn’t until one man sitting behind me mentioned “failure” that the question resonated.
I’m afraid of failure and the unknown. Yes, obviously spiders and to an extent heights but these weren’t my first thoughts. My initial answers immediately went to the uncontrollable.
I’ve never thought of this as anything but normal – I mean, you’re afraid of the unknown and failure too, right? Unfortunately, the sermon continued to point out that these are what are holding us back from reaching our full potential and the force behind missed opportunities.
What do I mean by this? Well, fear has a way of justifying itself if you let it. For example, the pastor of the sermon admitted on a mission trip to Africa this summer with the church’s youth to puffing his chest and crossing his arms when he noticed foreign man in traditional Muslim garb following the group to the local ice cream shop. They made eye contact, exchanged stern stares, and continued to move in the same direction.
Much to his surprise, when he reached the final destination, the pastor came to find out this man, who he had brushed off, was the owner of the Ice Cream shop and couldn’t have been more happy to interact and hand out the cones to each of these missionaries.
Instead of taking advantage of the opportunity to engage in a rational, potentially life-changing conversation, he had the audacity to fear this man simply because of the stereotype that came with him. I respect this pastor for his vulnerability to admit the sin and recognize he had missed out.
What is your fear keeping you from accomplishing?