It was U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt who said in his first inaugural address, in 1933, "We have nothing to fear but fear itself." If I had been alive then, I might have been tempted to respond, "Oh, yeah? That's easy for you to say!" Roosevelt had a point, however, because fear can be a powerful, paralyzing emotion, preventing us from doing - or even attempting - promising opportunities.
A friend, David Sanford, wrote about five fears he has observed that plague professionals. These include:
Virtually all of us can identify with at least one of these fears, possibly all of them. Several seem familiar for me. Stepping away from work to think, imagine and plan sometimes goes against my grain. "I should be doing something, not thinking! "But if we do not take pauses from frenetic activity, how do we know we are doing the right things - or doing them the right way?
Selling has never been one of my strong points, as I learned early on when I was still in college. The prospect of trying to persuade people to buy a product from me often felt like trying to twist their arms behind their backs. And I think we all have had times when we hesitated from moving forward, struggling with the thought, "What if I try and do my best, and still fail?"
Even at this advanced stage of my career, I find myself wrestling with these fears at times. Then I try to remind myself of truths such as, "If I do not try, failure is guaranteed." Or, to restate the Golden Rule, "Sell unto others as you would have them sell unto you."
But I have found that the real solution for overcoming fear is not clever slogans, but trusting in God, His wisdom and guidance. Here are some passages I have found helpful in that regard:
Faith in God's presence, when we confront daunting situations and fears, knowing God is with us in the midst of them, can bring us confidence and hope. "Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand" (Isaiah 41:10).
Belief in God's love. We as God's children believe He is sovereign - that He knows our circumstances and is in control. Therefore, we can trust He will use them for our ultimate good. "There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love" (1 John 4:18). "For you did not receive a spirit of slavery that returns you to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship, by whom we cry, 'Abba! Father!'"(Romans 8:15).
Think and Pray
Trust that God can deal with our obstacles. When problems appear too big for us to handle, we have the assurance God is bigger than our problems. "What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?" (Romans 8:31).
Lord, I confess that too often I go through the day relying on my own abilities, which sometimes feel insufficient for the challenges in front of me. Help me today to remember who You are … and that You’re with me. Thank You for Your promise too strengthen and protect me. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.
Robert J. Tamasy has written Business at Its Best: Timeless Wisdom from Proverbs for Today’s Workplace; Tufting Legacies, coauthored with David A. Stoddard, The Heart of Mentoring, and edited numerous other books, including Advancing Through Adversity by Mike Landry. Bob’s biweekly blog is: www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com.