“We fear men so much, because we fear God so little.”
One of God’s mandates to me this summer is to do whatever I can to restore my heart. Having a greater self-awareness plus a greater God-awareness equals greater freedom in Christ. Along those lines, one of the issues He’s putting His finger on is my fear of man. Proverbs 29:25 gives us a warning we’d be wise to heed. “Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.” A snare is a trap, something by which one is entangled. Usually it’s deceptively attractive.
Fear of man is displayed in how we react to peer pressure, in keeping up with the Joneses, in our people-pleasing, and being codependent on others. Fearing the Lord is the opposite of this. In fact, there’s a correlation between the two: as our reverence for God increases, our fear of man will decrease.
God showed me that my need to fit in and to not make waves nor rock the boat, was designed to prevent me from feeling lonely. In order to be accepted, I don’t bring up my needs or opinions. I discovered this all comes at the expense of me not being me! My fear of loneliness and fear of rejection causes me to hold the real Norma back from being known. When I stop to think of this I realize that this is not being fair to God, or fair to others, or to me! I need to be me, unashamedly me, and not worry or be concerned about what others think about me or about fitting into a group. I owe it to myself, to others and especially to God to share the authentic Norma.
I recently read a quote by Daniel Amen, regarding the 18/40/60 Rule. “When you’re 18, you worry about what everybody is thinking of you; when you’re 40, you don’t give a darn what anybody thinks of you; when you’re 60, you realize nobody’s been thinking about you at all.” One of the benefits of getting older is getting wiser.
The people you love the most tend to be the ones you care most about their opinions. It seems that I believe my mission in life is to please everyone and disappoint no one. This all stems from my root fear of loneliness. Not wanting to be left all alone, not wanting to be abandoned, has driven me to please man.
While reading “Grace for the Good Girl” by Emily P. Freeman, I was confronted with the fact that people-pleasing is really “me pleasing” in disguise. The origin of my need to always make others happy and never disappoint them stemmed from my need to protect myself and stay in my safe, place of comfort. It really wasn’t all about pleasing others as much as it was unconsciously wanting to take care of myself.
I think that’s why I’ve struggled with taking the initiative most of my life. I’d much rather you tell me what you want me to do and I’ll do it exactly how you want it, than to create something new on my own. What if you didn’t like what I did? Then where would I be? My fear says I’d be all alone and that’s too devastating to bear.
If I’m securely attached to God and understand in my heart how unconditionally loved and accepted I am, as I am, then I will have no need to please man. If I’m secure enough in my relationship with God, then I won’t need the approval of man.
Martin Luther once said, “Of whom shall I be afraid? One with God is a majority.” I like how he thinks. If God is with me and He’s on my side, then I need not fear loneliness. Instead of setting my sights on pleasing people, it’s God I desire to please.
“The most radical treatment for the fear of man is the fear of the Lord. God must be bigger to you than people are.”
Edward T. Welch
1. How is fear of man displayed in your life?
2. What is the heart issue which drives you to fear man?
3. Ask the Lord to increase your fear of Him, in order to decrease your fear of man.