Those from my generation will remember the movie “Home Alone”. It was about a boy named Kevin McAlister who was accidentally left home alone during Christmas break when his family flew to France. When Kevin discovered he was home alone, he was afraid. Most 9-year-olds would be afraid. When he discovered that the “Wet Bandits” were going to break into his house and steal whatever they found of value, Kevin’s courage arose. He set up a series of well-devised traps, and the burglars went to jail. Awesome story, right?
I wish I could say that I am the brave part of Kevin McAlister – the part that was determined to catch the burglars without fear. If I told you I was, I would be lying. At age 38, there are still days I feel like the scared little boy whose family was in France. So, what does this honest pastor fear?
- I fear rejection. That’s probably why I asked my ex-wife out 5 times after the first yes. (I am proud to say that I boldly told my current wife of my interest and let the chips fall where they may.) As a pastor, I have feared the rejection of people. What if my preaching isn’t good enough? What if I am not “cool enough”? What if I don’t perform to the expectations of others (as unrealistic as they can be)?
- I fear failure. This plagued me as a church planter. I was so paralyzed by fear. I took few risks. I already felt like a failure because I was a divorced guy in ministry who couldn’t land what many call a “real opportunity”.
- I fear being hurt again. I am occasionally reminded of the hateful things said by the pastor who bullied me. I am reminded of “the powers that be” in my first pastorate who retaliated against me when I was losing my family. Those things still sting. And part of me tries to prevent hurt from ever happening again. I hate to break it to you, but you can’t avoid hurt. It will happen over and over. You and I must learn to work through these things and become stronger people.
Why should I not fear? Some may be quick and judgmental, wanting to give me a quick rebuke that fear is sin, sin sends people to hell, so Matthew is going to hell. Yes, fear is sin. But let’s take a deeper look at this.
- Fear is not from God. Second Timothy 1:7 says that God has not given us a spirit of fear. If fear does not come from God, what is fear’s origin?
- Fear is a tool of the enemy used to paralyze the child of God. Scripture is full of countless examples.
- My fear should be of God not of man. This fear of God is a reverential awe. When I fear God, He is my priority to the point that I do not care what people will do to me. People will be people first and Christians second (if they are believers). Pleasing God must be my top priority.
How should I respond to fear?
- Take it to God in prayer. This may seem like a Sunday School answer, but God invites us to cast ALL our cares upon Him.
- Fill ourselves with the Word of God. Biblical truth gives us courage.
- Move forward afraid. I remember when I had my first child. He is now 16. I knew nothing about babies. I was scared. I was 22 years old, almost unemployed, and didn’t know a thing about being a dad. I’m glad to say I didn’t tuck tail and run. I faced the fears. Sixteen years and several kids later, I still face the fears. I face the fears that come with being a hospice chaplain. You and I must step out and find out. We will never know if we don’t “get out of the boat”.
Some of you bold, type-A personalities are probably thinking that I should put on my big boy pants. I’ll be glad to tell you I ordered them from Amazon Prime, and they should be here soon. Seriously, I will keep sharing about my journey because it just might strike a note with someone else.