The Paralyzing Fear of…FAILURE!

“But who am I to appear before Pharaoh?” Moses asked God. “How can you expect me to lead the Israelites out of Egypt?” Exodus 3:11

Moses was one of the greatest leaders of all time, yet when he was first called, he protested to God that he wasn’t good enough for the job. When I was reading from Exodus this week, these verses resonated with what I’m beginning to recognize in myself. I have an extremely deep fear of failing. And I doubt I’m the only one.

Sadly, if I don’t believe I can successfully do something, I’m likely not to try at all. Recently I was invited to do a program that would be good for me, but I didn’t sign up for it for fear that I couldn’t stick with it. I read in a psychology book that there’s something deep within us that feels like we need to stick with our commitments. If we don’t, we experience internal turmoil. I definitely feel that – to the point that I won’t even try to commit if I don’t believe in my heart I can finish.

Why do people not run for political office when we need good candidates? Why do folks not try out for plays or team sports? Not move to a new area for a potentially great life change? Not try to achieve their dreams? I think it’s a fear of failure that paralyzes us from moving forward. We’ve pushed this fear down so long that we don’t even recognize it as such and instead make up a million excuses as to why something won’t work for us, for our schedules, for our lives.

Recently my family went to a water park and my oldest son and I went down this huge tube slide. At the end of it, the force of the water shoots the raft out of the slide and straight down into a long lazy river that keeps looping around and around. If you would rather slide down the tube again instead, there’s a sign that says to get off immediately and get the ladder. The problem is that there is a STRONG undercurrent pushing all the rafts away from the ladder toward the lazy river. I climbed off the raft and lunged for the ladder with all my might to get out, thinking my son was right with me. He was trying but called out, “HELP ME! I can’t fight this current!” I grabbed his arm just in time and told him to hold onto the railing with me to get out. We made it safely to the edge without going around and around again. He was pleased that I was able to help him and he quickly walked up the steps again toward the slide. However, if he would have hesitated even for a moment, he would not have been with me. He was struggling on his own – he needed my help and knew when to ask, with his eye on where he wanted to go.

This describes life in so many ways. Do you ever struggle going round and round with the same old habits? Do you want to get out of the same patterns but the current is STRONG? Do you fear that trying may lead to failure on your own? Perhaps you’ve tried before, only to go under water with the current that continues to take you down stream, around and around again. This time is different, though. Because this time, you can call out to God who is there encouraging you to GET OUT! On your own, you can’t break the cycle. But, with God’s mighty arm, He can lead you to safety. There is nothing impossible for God.

Moses pleaded with God to pick someone else, noting that he wasn’t a good speaker and was “clumsy with words” (Exodus 4:10). You know God’s response? I love it! He asked Moses “Who makes mouths?” (Exodus 4:11). We may believe that we will fail if we try. We might be right! But, we should try anyway, because God can change both our circumstances and our own abilities! Are we able? Not at all! Is God able? YES! And if He’s calling you, He will lead you.

I also love that God sent Aaron along with Moses (Exodus 4:14). Sometimes we are less likely to stick with something new if we’re on our own. Ask God to show you who you can talk to about your situation. Chances are, He already has someone in mind to pray with you and encourage you or to travel with you through your circumstances. And feel free to email me (or drop a comment below), and I will pray for you as well. If you think of it, please pray for me, too. May we do what we know God is calling us to do without hesitation!!!

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your timeless word. Thank You that Moses wasn’t perfect, but the Bible isn’t about him. It’s about You and YOUR ability to lead Your people. Moses was simply Your instrument, and we humbly ask that You enable us to be useful instruments as well. May You be glorified in all we say and do. God, I specifically pray for anyone reading this right now, that they would break free of the fear of failure and take that small step toward Your healing and grace. May we realize that failing is just quitting. If we fall, we need to get back up by Your power alone. If we try and don’t succeed, may we trust that Your plan and Your timing is wonderful. May we sense Your heart and what You have in mind. Please speak clearly to us and remove our fear of failure. May we trust in You fully. In Jesus’ powerful and precious name, AMEN!

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