One of the biggest hindrances to success is the fear of failure. While certain natural fears are healthy and beneficial — the ones that keep us out of trouble by warning us NOT to do something really stupid — this particular fear can be paralyzing. It can keep us from taking the next big step in the pursuit of our goals. It prompts us NOT to take chances, and instead, to make excuses, to be complacent, and to accept defeat before we even try!
In his daily devotional, The Word for You Today, evangelist Bob Gass once stated that researchers conducted an experiment in which “frogs were placed in separate glass jars covered with lids to prevent them from escaping. At first the frogs kept jumping, trying to escape, but each time they’d hit their heads on the lid. After thirty days of doing this, something amazing happened. When the lids were removed … the frogs never jumped out even though they could easily have done so. Why? Because they had formed a belief system that the top of the jar was as high as they could go….”
That describes a lot of us. At some level, we tried to go higher but we failed. And now we’ve stopped trying. We’ve stalled in the pursuit of goals, believing we can’t go any further. We’re reluctant to even try, because the taste of defeat is bitter, indeed, and we don’t want to experience it again. So we tell ourselves, “I’m satisfied where I am. I’ve climbed high enough. I don’t need to rise any higher. Maybe I don’t deserve any better than this. Besides, I wouldn’t succeed anyway.”
If we allow this fear to rule our lives, we grow stagnant in every area. Playing it safe becomes our guiding principle in life. We’ll only do the right thing as long as it’s SAFE to do so. We’ll stop investing our money, our time, our talents, our love — because there’s a risk to every endeavor. There’s always a chance we can be hurt or suffer a loss.
No risks, no deep relationships, no chances on anything except the tried and true. Is this playing it safe? Or is it bondage? Are we free to take chances, or slaves to our fear?
Jesus Christ repeatedly admonishes us “to not be afraid.” In the Gospels alone there are dozens of warnings concerning FEAR. Our Lord came to free us — especially from bondage to fear: fear of not being worthy; fear of being rejected; fear of saying “No!” to unreasonable requests; fear of not living up to expectations; fear of failure; fear of being too young or too old or not qualified or over-qualified or too late or too early or not the right gender or ethnicity. To quote U.S. President Harry Truman, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” And we needn’t fear that one either, because “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.” (John 4:18 ESV) God’s love is perfect. So be FREE! Take confidence, strength and joy from the love, acceptance, and grace of God.
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” (2 Timothy 1:7 NLT)