“Fear is a self-fulfilling prophecy. We’re afraid, so we act out of fear, and because we act out of fear, our fears tend to come true.”
Fear keeps us from the future we’re pursuing and the lives we want. Because of fear, we hide from our calling and stay in safe, comfortable places.
I feel like I came out of hiding in 2011. I had been leading a worship service at my church with my mentor and friend, Maxie Burch. After four years of serving together, Maxie moved to Canada and then Arkansas. This was the first year in our friendship that we had not lived in the same city. It was also the first year in my season on staff at my church that I was on my own, where Maxie wasn’t a short walk down the hall.
At one point, we both acknowledged the fact that I was living in his shadow. He was a security blanket of sorts. For me to come into my full potential, he would have to move on to another place. While he did not leave for this reason, our hunches were accurate. I was incredibly saddened to say goodbye to him, but I would be dishonest if I ignored how his departure opened the door for me to come into my own.
Tackling responsibility without Maxie at my side scared me at first. Like most things I have not done before, I did not know how it was going to work out. But looking back on all that happened in the following 18 months, I am surprised how far my expectations were exceeded.
God stretched me and grew me. I probably gave some horrible talks along the way, but I also had some moments where I felt God’s presence tangibly as I wrote and gave my messages. I grew immensely as a leader.
Maxie and I had breakfast a few weeks ago when he was in Phoenix. Since then, I have been reflecting on why I hid for so long in that season.
Like many of us do, I avoided what was difficult and painful out of fear. Until that point, I shied away from the process through which God ultimately transformed me.
I realized an important truth recently.
[Tweet “The greatest thing we lose when we hide is transformation.”]
Transformation comes to us disguised as an unwanted experience. We often lose out on preparation because our perspective is debilitatingly short-sighted.
When we hide in places where we are safe, we miss life’s greatest opportunities. We minimize risk and live beneath our potential. We insulate ourselves from God’s power to transform and shape us for things that are far beyond our imagination.
In those moments, our fears get in the way of our dreams.
So what’s the solution? How do we overcome fear so that it does not get in the way of our dreams? How do we stop hiding behind people and places that are safe and comfortable?
Part one of the solution to this problem is moving toward our fears, not away from them. Preparing and giving a message 3-4 Sunday nights a months, as opposed to 2 Sunday nights a month was a difficult shift, especially when I was still working a second job at Starbucks.
Yet, that constant challenge gave me the constant opportunity to evaluate past performance, ask for specific feedback, and make immediate changes for future improvement. What I needed most was disguised in what I feared. This new challenge fueled my growth.
When we stay in a place that is overly safe or familiar, we begin to perceive change as an unwarranted risk. The unknown becomes the home of our fears instead of the path to our dreams.
When we shy away from places where we would be challenged or stretched, we run from our fears. Unaware, we’re actually running from our dreams too. Think of the colors on a stoplight.
We often think of fear as red, meaning stop. Fear is actually green, meaning go.
[Tweet “Go towards your fear, not away from it.”]
Part two of the solution involves going public, so you can get encouragement and accountability.
As I began to reflect on all that God was doing in a season where I was afraid, I established a new habit. I told people where I was afraid and invited them to hold me accountable to hopeful living. I needed to reject fear and choose courage. I began refusing to let my fears get in the way of my God-given dreams.
We need to apologize less for the calling we feel in our lives and striving for more focus on being good stewards. The opportunities we have, our gifts and talents – they are all a temporary gift from God, the use of we will be asked to account.
If you feel a God-given dream growing inside of you, you have stewardship over that dream or idea. The first step is (probably) not blogging about it, posting it on Facebook or tweeting it. Because it is easy to feel like you’re doing it just by talking about it, deceiving yourself.
However, you should share it with those you are close to and ask that community of people to begin encouraging you and holding you accountable for tangible action and progress.
When you go public, you give others the opportunity to help you move forward in this cause.
Consider the Lord of the Rings storyline. When Frodo decides that he is taking the ring to Mordor, Sam and the others have the chance to fall in with him. Until Frodo made his intentions clear, they had nothing to hold him accountable to or encourage him about.
If your fears have been getting in the way of your dreams, I believe something different can be true in the rest of 2015.
[Tweet “Dreams are not fulfilled in a magical way that requires little work on your end.”]
Making your ideas happen is the hardest part, but it is also part of the great work God created us to fulfill. As I’ve learned, when we start going to work, we find God moving in ways that we did not anticipate.
I am still looking for the antidote to fear. I’d like to eliminate it from my life and yours. Even as I prepare to publish this post, I’m facing some new fears in my life. Yet, I am writing today to make to help ensure that fear loses. Fear cannot get in the way of this God-given dream. I’m not hiding any longer and I hope you’ll join me in leaving the shadows today.
Fear does not have to rob you of your dreams. Fear can become the yellow brick road that shows you the way to make your dreams come to life!
Be strong and courageous!
[Do you struggle with fear? Here are 8 more ways you can win the battle with fear.]