What will everyone think?
Will they laugh at me? Behind my back?
What if they think I’m prideful?
What if they think I’m stupid?
What if they think I’m conceited?
What if they think I’m a terrible mom ** (housekeeper, speaker, writer, wife, Christian, person, worker) **insert any word you choose.
I’m asking for a friend, because I don’t neurotically sit around worrying about other people’s opinions. That would be weird.
Nope- got to be honest here. The fear of man traps me. Paralyzes me. Keeps me from so many things.
And I hate it.
I have two girls in my head. (Actually I have more than two. But these two are the pertinent ones for THIS conversation.)
One girl is confident, trusts God, doesn’t worry about what others think. She likes to act strong and courageous, and wants to complete bold tasks for the Kingdom. She imagines stories to write, books to publish, conferences to give. But for all her bravery, she is unfortunately rather quiet when the other girl shows up.
The other girl loves to remind me that I was usually last when being picked on the playground (The playground? Really? Why does she STILL bring up the playground? I am 55, for goodness sake.) She thinks up every negative opinion another person could have about what I am doing, writing, or saying. And she LOVES to tell me all about it. She worries I will look foolish in the eyes of others and encourages me to wait to act until I am certain it is the right thing to do. And she is LOUD. She regularly drowns out my brave girl.
I don’t like her very much, but I can’t seem to get rid of her.
The Fear Of Man
I bet the fear of man has hampered more good ideas, brave quests, and daring deeds than any other single thing.
- By fear of man, I mean male and female. In this day of heightened sensitivity to the point of nonsensical finger-pointing, I feel it necessary to point that out.
Now, there are the wild-eyed, visionary, inventor types who don’t give a flip what others think. But the rest of us mortals worry way too much about others' opinions. At least I do. It isn't only me, is it? (Because I am worried about what you are thinking about me right now.)
Now, in the days of social media, we are even more under the what-others-think gun. An opinion that would never be uttered face-to-face, is blasted in ALL CAPS with exclamation marks!!! for all our friends to see. Names, for which your mother should have washed your mouth out with soap, are lobbed against anyone with a different opinion than yours. And for heavens sake, if you have an opinion about someone else’s opinion, you have a right, nay- a responsibility, to share it. Often.
Logic has gone out the window as we all withdraw to our respective corners. EVERYONE who voted for this person thinks THIS. EVERYONE who holds THAT conviction has no heart, no brain, no excuse to be alive.
- (But I digress. I guess I should do another post about social media issues, but not today.)
Before I climbed up on my social-media soap box, I was making the point that while we always have wrestled with the fear of man, we live in an age where people’s bad opinions have taken steroids and grown into monsters. What are we to do? How do we escape?
I have found only one escape hatch, and thankfully, my loud, worried girl can’t even fit through the door.
Who Is My Master
The following scripture has been my door of freedom:
- You were bought with a price; do not become bondservants of men. (1 Corinthians 7:23, ESV)
The VERY important question I must ask myself: who is my Master?
Reality: we are all slaves to someone or something. If you doubt me, let me ask you, what is the One Thing that drives your decisions, invades your thoughts, keeps you from what you want, rules your time, and steers your path?
THAT is your master.
Sometimes my ambitions are my master. Sometimes, myself. Sometimes, my job. Sometimes, my family.
It doesn’t have to be a bad thing to be my master. It just has to have been moved out of its rightful position and onto the throne.
But even more than that, if I fear other people and their opinions more than I fear God, THEY become my master.
BUT!!!! (All caps. Exclamation marks.)
But — I have already been bought with a price! I am owned. I have a Master. And He does not share His throne.
I am owned, and I owe my allegiance to my loving, compassionate, all-powerful Heavenly Father. So, why do I allow myself to become anyone else’s bondservant? Every time I allow my imaginations of what others think affect my decisions, I allow them to rule me instead of Jesus.
But remember the end of verse 23: do not become bondservants of men.
In the ancient world, a bondservant willingly put him or her self under the claim of their master. After the slave had paid her debt or fulfilled her obligation, she chose to remain in that servanthood. I become the servant of who/what I chose to serve (even myself, and I am a horrible master.)
I must not chose anyone else but Jesus.
I owe allegiance to the One who gave His life for me.
I follow the opinions of the One who called me His own.
I chose to focus on what He thinks and how He directs.
Why would I chose to be enslaved by others and their opinions when I am faced with the overwhelming love and power of the God of the universe?
What To Say To My Fear
For those of you who have no fear of man, congratulations. Now, go away.
But for the rest of you, I invite you to join me as I now give myself a little pep talk. I will let you read it because I will not fear what you might think. (At least theoretically, because I always need to work on this.)
This is what I am telling myself:
- You are fully loved and chosen by Jesus, not because of what you do, but because of what He did.
- He loves and values you enough to want to use you, so do what He assigns, and remember, His is the only opinion that matters.
- You don’t have to be good enough, He works THROUGH you.
- You don’t have to be talented enough, He GIFTS you.
- You don’t have to be smart enough, He GIVES you what to say.
- You don’t have to fear being chosen last, He ALREADY CHOSE you.
- So get busy- there is work to do.
For all of you struggle like me, welcome to the club. But, let me show you to the door. This door offers freedom. No one else fits through. You arrive on the other side, and it is just you and Jesus.
I walk through the door of freedom each time I remember I serve only Jesus, no one else.
In the presence of my I master, I "... can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:6)
What a joy: I only have to worry about what He thinks and do what He says. I find my way to freedom by rejoicing in Jesus owning me. I am His. I obey Him.
His opinion is the the only one that matters.
I might have to return to this truth EVERY DAY (or sometimes, every hour, every moment), but He is always ready for me to turn to Him, abandon the slavery of others' opinions or judgements, and walk through the door where He helps me do His will.
When do you feel the fear of man or woman more than the fear of God? Share below and I will pray for you to find the door that leads to Jesus and away from the fear and the resulting paralysis.
Let's pray for each other to go do God's will, no matter what.