“40 Things…” DAY 1: “Fear of Failure”

OK, so I thought I’d try Phil Ressler’s “40 Things To Give Up For Lent” challenge!


I wish I could say that this would be an easy one. You know like I have things “figured out” in this department. But what I’m discovering is that…


As I was thinking about this early this morning, I was realizing how often fear has been a HUGE motivating factor in my life. It’s been behind so many decisions in my life. As I was thinking about “fear”, it occurred to me that fear has really two aspects. There’s the fallen kind of fear and the holy kind of fear. So, when the scripture says:

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” Proverbs 9:10

What’s it talking about? Like “terror” kind of fear? Well, maybe….I mean, a Holy God…and a fallen sinner…well, there is that kind of scary fear there. Fear has something to do with punishment. (1 John 4:18). And when you look around us in the world, there’s plenty to be afraid of! There are some actual, real live threats out there right?

But as I think about life, maybe the greatest thing to fear isn’t “out there”…it’s in “here”….in my sin. In my fallen heart. In the “old man”. This is the truly terrifying stuff! From it comes all kinds of darkness and defilement…and sin. AND, it rightly deserves punishment! This is why we need Christ! He took on my punishment! So that we could live free from this kind of fear of eternal punishment. But, even though this is true…I still experience fear. According to the passage above, I need more of the love of Jesus in my life! Amen?

In the work I do, I encounter people every day that are afraid. I think fear is the most common emotion we experience. And in the uncertainty of the environment we live in…..out of fear…..well…it does impact our lives. Usually negatively. I’ve seen people paralized by it. It’s wrecked marriages, lives and families. Through the lens of fear we often see everything. Other’s motives, the culture and world around us….and even God. Many times we don’t consider trying new things because we believe that there is a HIGH likelihood of failure, pain…etc. And even more, we avoid those things because we believe…

“The devil we know is safer than the devil we don’t know”

Funny thing about that cliché is that either way….you’re dealing with the devil and when you’re dealing with the devil, you’ll be dealing with fear. He exploits it at every turn! (check out: 2 Timothy 1:7)

But the word can also mean “awe”, “reverence”…kind of like you’re confronted with someone so amazingly awesome…and “other than”….you that it moves you emotionally….in your spirit kind of response. So fear…it s HUGE deal and one that’s worthy of contemplation. Especially when we consider “how” it impacts us. But today, we’re specifically thinking about failure.

In failure, something isn’t happening the way it supposed to. Things aren’t working out well. You were working towards “X” and “Y” happened. Since our culture seems to only value the “successful” and those who seem to have there stuff together, those who “fail” are seen in a very negative light. We don’t remember “2nd” place, “2nd string”, whatever. We’re very narrow and short sighted in this way. So, when someone actually tries and fails…we don’t applaud or honor them for the attempt. No, we often berate, judge and criticize them for it. Our culture is actually very toxic and destructive in this way. So….Our failure produces pain, confusion, shame, guilt…a whole range of symptoms emotionally. And these are no small emotions! They all do something to us! So most… avoid them….at ALL costs!

Now, when we’ve tried something and failed and it’s been painful, often we don’t try again. Once is “enough”! And when that happens, well, growth stops…in a sense…LIFE STOPS! I mean, “how” will we learn, expand, deepen, achieve if we don’t “fail”? If our fallen nature teaches us anything is SHOULD be that “no one is perfect” (Romans 3:23)! So…failure can actually be the key, the door to a deeper and more glorious life! So…

maybe the ones who fail are actually the ones who succeed and maybe the ones to won’t try at all because they’re afraid of failure are the ones who truly experience failure?

As I was thinking about this, this morning, the following passage came to mind:

“…fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you,I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” — Isaiah 41:10

Think about this! GOD says…DO NOT BE AFRAID! Why? HE is with us! He’s right there in it with you! In your failure, in your successes…in all of it! It’s in Isaiah’s book, that we also learn that Jesus would be called “Immanuel” — which means “God with us!” (Isaiah 7:14). That’s usually a passage we use at Advent/Christmas, but it applies to Lent as well! God is with us…and because HE is with us….failure doesn’t have to “dismay”, weaken our resolve, or leave us feeling “helpless”. He will use this…failure for His glory and our good (Romans 8:28). So go ahead and…


There is nothing to fear in it when Christ is with us in it! AND we might just find that our failure is THE things we needed to find what God intended in the first place.

APPLICATION: What’s one thing you fear of failing at? Why not try it (or try it again?)

Tomorrow…. “Give Up Your: Comfort Zone”

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