Rick Bezet | August 28, 2017
No matter how comfortable we are with ourselves or how many accomplishments we’ve racked up, nearly everyone gets intimidated by other people sooner or later. It may be feeling nervous when forced to make a presentation at work. Or it can be that tightening of the gut that occurs when your boss calls you in for a one-on-one meeting. Maybe it’s talking with strangers or meeting new people in your small group at church. The problem is that in order to be real, we need authentic self-confidence—not arrogance or smugness but a genuine sense of our true selves that we bring to every situation.
WE NEED CONFIDENCE IN WHO GOD MADE US TO BE.
There’s no greater authenticity killer and confidence kidnapper than fear. Feeling afraid erodes our sense of being okay with who we are, the way God made us. We end up feeling threatened, overwhelmed, inadequate, weak, and even powerless. When we’re afraid, we act defensively and end up doing and saying things that don’t reflect who we really are. We often try to hide our fear and “fake it,” cultivating a mask to hide behind. Sometimes it may even work, but over time we end up trying to be something or someone that’s not our true selves.
Almost everyone suffers from a fear of something: fear of failure, fear of snakes, fear of insects, fear of commitment, and so on. Not many people realize that I fight a fear, but let me tell you, I have been absolutely terrified of heights. Roller coasters do not bother me, and I am totally fearless on any theme park ride.
However, walk me near a steep cliff, and you are going to have a real problem!
I’m convinced one fear in particular undermines our healthy self-confidence and ability to be real. The Bible calls it the “fear of man” and makes it clear that when we succumb to it, we’re not fully trusting in God. Proverbs tells us, “Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe” (29:25).
FEAR OF MAN IS THE MAIN BARRIER THAT STOPS US FROM RELATING AUTHENTICALLY TO PEOPLE, ESPECIALLY THOSE WE PERCEIVE TO BE SUCCESSFUL.
Be honest: if Bill Gates came to your house to talk to you, you might be a little intimidated! Maybe you wouldn’t be able to think straight. Being yourself? Well, forget that!
You might have a hard time because you would be trying to make a good impression on one of the wealthiest and most successful human beings on the planet. That is the fear of man. Essentially, you’re elevating someone else’s opinion of you above what God thinks of you. God created you to be yourself, unique and special and unlike anyone else. The fear of man also elevates someone else above you, as if he or she were somehow better or more valuable or more important than you are. This is nothing but a lie from our enemy. In fact, every inordinate fear is based on his lies and distortions.
Fear of man is particularly evil, however, for two reasons. First, it places a person or people above God in importance. Second, it makes us unequal in the eyes of God, when we are all created in God’s image and are equally loved by him. It can begin when we are children, afraid to raise our hand in class. What if our answer is wrong? The kids will laugh at us. The teacher might make fun of us. What if our answer is right? The kids may not like us anymore because they will think we are trying to impress the teacher. Nothing’s worse than a “teacher’s pet”!
If you realize that you are nervous or uptight around certain people you see as successful and you are afraid to even encourage them, then there’s no way you are going to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with them or pray for them or be your real self around them. This is why you have to get free of the fear of man—and you can be. As the psalmist reminds us, “The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?” (27:1).