What is fear? Ask any child, and they'll tell you... "it's when I'm afraid." We fear the dark, we fear the unknown, we fear being alone. The point is... WE FEAR.
One of the first Bible verses I remember memorizing was 2 Timothy 1:7 -- " For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind." I learned that verse because from a very young age, I struggled with fear.
It may sound odd to hear that a grown man has fear in his life. It may even sound lame to hear that a church leader has a propensity towards fear. The truth is, I am often hit hard by fear. The enemy (that would be Satan) chooses his attack times carefully, and skillfully. He knows that I am most vulnerable when I am alone, and likes to capitalize on that fact. I have long struggled with insomnia, so late at night is when this battle often takes place in my life. It starts simply enough...a thought about something that is coming up at church, or in the community. Then, thoughts of every kind come flooding in, thoughts of doubt, anxiety, etc.
I have spoken to my past problems in church work, and those wounds that are still healing, in some of my other postings. The fear of those things happening again are very real. I work through some of that thought process nearly every day. Truthfully, hurtful things happen in church work, and that never really goes away. You just learn to deal with it as part of the job. Church leaders fail you, church people fail you, even trusted counselors and advisors fail you. We are all human, after all. Each of us fail at some point, it's just that some fail in more catastrophic ways.
One of my biggest fears is failing to do everything that God has called me to do. I want to be a Godly husband, father, son, brother, friend, and minister to those that God has placed in my life. That responsibility is great, and I certainly do not want to fail in any of it. I want to provide for my family's needs in the best way that I can, which often proves to be a challenge in the ministry. I also deeply feel the call of Matthew 28 to take the name of Jesus to the nations of the world, including this one that I live in right now. I constantly wrestle with how to approach my part of that task. Of course, I realize that I cannot save the world...that's up to the Lord. However, I want to do all I can to be used by God in this effort. This admittedly self-induced pressure and stress often adds to my feelings of anxiety and fear in this area.
I also fear people walking away or leaving me. 3 months ago, I lost one of my closest friends to cancer. Dave was one of the two people that God used over the past 2 years to teach me to trust new people again. We talked together, prayed together, cried together, and did a LOT of laughing together, and even traveled to Thailand together. Dave knew when to call... he knew when to come by and take me to lunch... he was honestly a gift from God. His strength in his fight with cancer was unreal. I often wondered how he had the time and patience to befriend me while he was in such an intense battle of his own. I replay our last lunch together in my mind a lot. We were discussing a series of messages that I was preparing to give to a group overseas during Christmas break. His wisdom and affirmation were just what I needed that day. And then, not 3 months after that, he was gone. Why would God allow this friendship to deepen like this, to finally bring me out of my shell again, and then allow this to happen? Honestly, I still don't have the answer to that question, and I miss him like crazy.
Part of my fear of people leaving me is another part of me that I have discussed before. I am a "fixer." I love to help people, plain and simple. In fact, I thrive on helping people. I like being able to invest in lives, because it gives me a sense of accomplishment. Not just because the wonderful "Steve" helped them, but because I feel like God has allowed me to make a difference in some part of a life. In church ministry, we often develop wonderful relationships with people, and see real progress in their lives. Often times, that progress moves them on to a new point in life, and away from our lives. Other times, progress is made, but for unknown reasons that person chooses to move to another church or abandon church altogether. It is part of what we do in ministry, but that does not make it easy to deal with, and often leaves you feeling alone.
Why write a blog about my fears? For one thing, it helps me to write about them. However, the real reason I am writing this is to continue to tear down the misconception that ministers have it all together. I want others to know that we are just regular people that have been called to a vocation in ministry. Yes, I know Bible verses about fear. I've heard sermons, read books, and seen presentations about why we should not fear as Christians. I know those things, and yet I still struggle with it every day. Anxiety, fear, and depression are not foreign to most people today, nor were they foreign to people like King David in the Bible. With God's help, I am working through it each day. I would appreciate your prayers, and would in turn love to pray for any of you that need it. Thank you for taking the time to read my words here.