Fear of failure has dominated my life for years. The need to succeed has driven the direction of my life. Always wanting to be good at what I do, I placed a high standard of accomplishment upon myself. Other times, people put those expectations on me.
But, fear of failure can have negative consequences. “Well, I can’t really do that, because I might not be able to finish.” Or does this sound familiar: “Even though I want to write a book, drive a car, get married someday, I just don’t want to risk the chance of failure.”
Year ago, I was praying about these expectations that were driving my life. I prayed, “Lord, I hate feeling like I have to accomplish everything and do everything. It’s just too much of a burden. I don’t want to fail these people. I don’t want to fail myself. And most of all, I don’t want to fail you.”
Then, I started thinking about my son. “Can he fail me?” No, he’s my son. He’s young and learning. He’s curious, but transparently honest. Yes, he makes mistakes at times, but he has never failed me. I love him for who he is, not for what he does.
It was at that moment that I felt God say to me the same words, “Russell, you are spiritually young, and you are learning. You are curious, but honest. You make mistakes at times, but you have never failed me. I love you for who you are, not for what you do.”
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God” (Romans 8:38-39).
Immediately, I felt as if God had released me from all of the expectations he had on me–succeeding, achieving, accomplishing, always moving forward, never failing. I felt like he had given me the opportunity to fail. Now, let me clarify one thing–God was not giving me a license to disobey. God calls us to obedience. But, I felt he was giving me the opportunity to fail.
I encourage you to pray and ask God to show you what he requires of you. I think if you really listen and read the Bible, you will find that God loves you for who you are, not for what you accomplish. Jesus explains the only two requirements that are required of us: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:37-39).
This week, find some way to invest your “talents”, take some Godly risks and don’t be afraid of failing. God loves you for who you are.
Prayer: Father, please reveal to me any unhealthy expectations. Show me your expectations. Show me how to release those things that are not of you. Open up my heart to receive your love.