The phone call caught me somewhat by surprise. Her assessment was one of the strongest we had seen in our profile. Her concept was cause-driven and a sure-fire hit. And she was an expert in her field, having worked with abused children as a police officer.
But her confidence in her abilities, coupled with her fear for what would happen if she failed, led her to tell me, “I can’t do this. It’s not going to work.”
Thankfully we talked her off the ledge, and she and her team are nearing launch of a house for runaway girls on the eastside of Detroit.
2 Timothy 1 tells us God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and self-control. Yet many of us wrestle with fear, allowing it to paralyze us, keeping us from taking risky steps of faith.
Entrepreneurs and fear co-exist. Every entrepreneur I have worked with experiences fear to one degree or another. Those who say they don’t are either lying or delusional.
Entrepreneurship and fear are cousins in part because starting something new is exciting. I like to define excitement as “joy mixed with fear.” Joy (“I’ve prayed for this! It’s finally happening!!!”) mixed with fear (“What if it fails? How will we pay the bills????”)
There is always a little bit of unknown in every spoon of excitement. And the unknown calls out fear.
Unfortunately fear will befriend you until death. While Jesus has not given us a spirit of fear, our broken spirit gravitates to fear. Especially when risk is involved.
Sometimes fear is helpful. Yes, if you take out a second mortgage on the house to launch your childcare center and it goes belly up, you will probably lose the house. And if you haven’t cleared that with your spouse, you might also lose your spouse.
That’s a wise fear. Pay attention to those. Make sure you know what you’re risking when you risk. Especially when relationships are at risk.
But often Satan takes legitimate fears and perverts them a few degrees into lies. This is especially true when the fears have to do with identity issues.
Issues like success and vocation and reputation are identity fears. “If I fail, my kids will disown me.” “I’ll have to be a greeter at Wal-Mart if this doesn’t work.” While those statements might have a grain of truth in them, fear blows them up into an oversized, all-consuming demon.
For those fears we remember our ultimate success is in Jesus. In our baptisms He claimed us. We are forever His. While our identity is tied up in our worldly vocations, and rightfully so, the foundation of our identity lies in Whose we are, to Whom we belong. We belong to Jesus.
As you remember Whose you are and what He’s secured for you, a great way to handle fear is to turn it into questions. By changing a fear half-truth into a question, it opens your mind and heart to courageous solutions. It also allows you to approach the reality of the fear in a realistic spirit.
So, instead of “If I fail, my kids will disown me,” try, “What will my kids think of me if I fail?” and then go ask them.
Instead of “I’ll have to be a greeter at Wal-Mart if this doesn’t work,” “If this doesn’t work, what other occupations could I pursue?”
Fear wants to force you into a dark corner. Jesus’ presence in you has already set you free from fear, free to live and risk and start new knowing that ultimately, He will see you through.
So what fear is keeping you from starting? What would you start if you had no fear?