"I'm Afraid..."

I hear phrases that begin with those two words a lot, more than I think is healthy. I live in the seminary world, which makes this even more disheartening. Fear can be a great motivator. Fear can be a great protector.

But fear can also be a paralyzer.

In Luke 10, Jesus sends out many disciples into the towns to share the good news and to do God's work. He tells them to take nothing with them, no snacks, no back pack, not even an extra pair of sneakers. To make matters worse he tells them up front that they are being sent to the wolves.

So out they go, with just a pocket full of faith.

Fear was not an option for these first followers. That's not to say that they didn't have a healthy dose of it, but if they allowed themselves to be controlled by it, they never would have taken one step out the door.

I hear a lot of fear today, the paralyzing kind:

  • I'm afraid that if I preach on that topic then...
  • I'm afraid that if I encourage social media in worship then...
  • I'm afraid that if I join that protest then...
  • I'm afraid that if I use digital ministry then...
  • I'm afraid that if I support gay rights then...
  • I'm afraid that if I write that then...
Need I go on? Just like we can't live our lives in fear, we can't do our work in fear either, whether that work is ministry, writing, social work, or tattooing.

Let me give you a real world example. I have helped quite a few people, who are significantly older than me, use their computers at home. One thing that I have noticed is that if they don't know where to click, they won't click anywhere, for fear of "breaking" their computer. By contrast, people of my generation or younger, when faced with the same scenario, will begin to click everywhere. One group is full of explorers, and the other is full of the paralyzed.

What do you fear? Or more importantly, what is fear keeping you from doing? If fear is keeping you safe or motivating you to do good work then great! But, if fear is keeping you from doing things that you know are important, worthwhile, and can make a positive difference in this world, then...

I struggle with this too. But there comes a time when I have to take control of fear, have confidence in my God given abilities, remind myself that I am not alone, and head out the door in faith, even if it's just a pocket full.

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