Monday, March 1, 2010

March, 2010 -- Overcoming the fear of failure

My righteousness will never fail. Isaiah 51:6

Fear of failing comes to us in many forms. We sometimes fear failing on the job or failing at a skill, often failing in a relationship. We may fear we’ve failed at life in general, that we haven’t reached goals we set or become what we wanted to be—and that we never will. But we can put these fears away.

One great part about God’s plan is that it doesn’t end. Even though we’ve failed in the past (and all of us have), that’s no guarantee we’ll fail in the future. If we’re not where we want to be now (and many of us aren’t), that doesn’t guarantee a bad future. But the fear of failing can often keep us from trying again, from listening to God’s prompts, from building what’s waiting to be built.

But some preparation will help us overcome this fear and build with willingness, belief and patience, and we can start today and build one day at a time.

Discouragement and disappointment can take over our lives and stop us still, unable to even look at a stack of boards and see something in the making. I think what happens is that often, after too many falling walls and wrecked plans, we begin to plan for failure instead of success, and we let that plan overtake God’s.

Sure it’s easy to give in to the fear, but a better use of our time and energy is to prepare for success, and we do that in a couple ways.

*Reassess your goals. No matter how tall and beautiful your temple may be, I can’t duplicate it, and if I try, I will fail, because God’s designed our temples like our fingerprints, one to the soul.

When my temple -- my life -- remains in disarray with tools scattered everywhere, I have to know how to guide it and build it better. Am I clear about where I’m going and what I want the next floor to look like? If not, I will surely fail there too. Success is a lot more likely with a clear understanding of my goals and a plan to get there. Jesus knew, and He gave us a way to work unafraid.

When Jesus was in Jerusalem for a festival, He was at the pool of Bethesda and saw the injured and sick people there, each hoping to be first in the pool when it stirred and be cured. He approached one man who’d been waiting 38 years.

When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”
“Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”
Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” [John 5:6-8 NIV]

We can learn at least four points from that story to help us prepare for success:

- God is waiting on us to make a choice. Jesus’ first question to the man wasn’t about his history or condition, but his intent, and his next move depended on that answer. He’s asking us the same thing. Do we want to get well? Do we want to overcome this fear and take some risks to build and grow and live the way God’s planned for us?

- If our answer to Jesus’ question is yes and we choose to overcome our fears, then we need to follow His directions and “Get up!” – “get up” in our mind, our attitude, our belief -- and prepare for what’s next. Once we focus on God’s plan and put ourselves in it, we can build without fear.

- Preparing for success means being willing to work for it. Jesus told the man to pick up his mat -- not to wait for someone else to get it or leave it there, but to carry what he would need with him. He’s telling us to prepare with proper training, supplies, practice -- whatever we need to keep building. He makes the plan, we carry out our part.

- God’s certainly been patient with us, so we can do the same and start where we are, just like Jesus told the man. “Walk,” He said, not run, not cartwheel, not go back and fix everything that’s happened in the past, just walk. He’s saying put up one board today, hang one door today, lay just a few bricks today, and tomorrow we’ll work some more. Patience is easier when we’re walking in the right direction.

*Develop a long-range plan. You can bet God’s got one with your name on it. Your long-range plan will help you meet short-range goals, and that helps you progress one day at a time, building as you go without fear.

Your long-range plan doesn’t have to be for the rest of your life or include everything you ever hope to do all at once. Focus on one project, if you like, or look just one year out. Choose a finish line you can identify and small, measurable steps to get you there. That's preparing for success, not fearing failure.

With these strategies and with willingness, belief and patience, get to work. Soon, you’re waist-deep in the water you feared having around your ankles, and the result is even more building!

Please think about these questions and if you will, respond for our other builders here:

-why does fear of failing interfere with your life so much, or why has it in the past?
-how has it stopped you from building what you felt God wanted you to build?
-how will you plan for success in your life today and follow Jesus’ plan for the man at the pool?

Read below or download the study of Gideon for yourself or your group. Thanks for being here!

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