Spoken on 10/7/07
(*Scroll down to stream or download the audio or read the intro first)
How many of you know who Ann Landers is? She’s a famous old advice columnist who wrote her column for 43 years. Her column ran in newspapers across the country. People would write to her with all kinds of questions and problems and she’d give them advice.
In the book, “Conquer Fear!” by Lisa Jimenez she tells this story about Ann Landers that I want to start with today. Listen to what it reveals..
Newspaper columnist Ann Landers was once asked, “Out of all the thousands of letters you receive each month, what problem is most dominant in people’s lives?”
Her answer was shocking! “It’s fear!” she replied without hesitation. “The one thing that keeps people from the life they dream of is fear. People live every day in their fear. They’re afraid of losing their wealth. They’re afraid of losing their loved ones. They’re afraid of being themselves. They’re afraid of growing up and being responsible. They’re afraid of making the wrong decision. They’re afraid of making a commitment. They’re afraid of life itself!”
When I was praying and thinking about what I should talk to you about for our next series I felt like God led me to this topic of fear because it’s so universal.
No one is completely fearless. We all fear something or some things. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a student or a parent, single or married, young or older – we all have things we’re afraid of.
What I’m afraid of might be nothing to you or what you’re afraid of might be nothing to me. Fear is unique because it’s subjective and really in the eye of the beholder.
And just like when we were kids, most of the things we’re afraid of aren’t real. They’re make-believe or at least not real yet!
But these make-believe fears, in a very real way, hold most of us back from doing, living and being what we’re meant to do, live and be!
That’s what makes fear such a negative and restrictive thing. But fear isn’t only negative! HowItWorks.com said this about fear…
If we couldn't be afraid, we wouldn't survive for long. We'd be walking into oncoming traffic, stepping off of rooftops and carelessly handling poisonous snakes. We'd be hanging out with people who have tuberculosis. In humans and in all animals, the purpose of fear is to promote survival.
Listen to this Wikipedia definition of Fear… http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fear
“Fear is an emotional response to impending danger, that is tied to anxiety. Behavioral theorists, like Watson and Ekman, have both suggested that fear, along with a few other basic emotions (e.g., joy and anger), is a trait innate to most higher functioning organisms. Fear is a survival mechanism, and usually occurs in response to a specific negative stimulus.” And later it says, “Fear is related to a number of emotional states including worry, anxiety, terror, fright, paranoia, horror, panic (social and personal), persecution complex and dread.”
Not all fear is bad! God gave us fear to protect us. Without it we’d be clueless and constantly in danger and not even know it! We’d be like young kids.
Picture of why we need fear:
What I’m going to be talking to you about today is NOT about completely getting rid of all fear. It’s impossible and not healthy or smart to totally get rid of fear!
I’m going to be talking instead about changing the way see/respond to fear! We have to change our paradigm of fear.
Stephen Covey in his classic book “7 Habits Of Highly Effective People” says this about paradigms…
“It becomes obvious that if we want to make relatively minor changes in our lives, we can perhaps appropriately focus on our attitudes and behaviors. But if we want to make significant quantum change, we need to work on our basic paradigms.”
We need a new way to see and respond to fear. Instead of seeing fear as something to run from fear we need to make friends with it and realize that it can help us and inspire to action.
If we don’t do this, then we’ll never get rid of one of the major barriers that hold us back from living and fulfilling our purpose!
Can you imagine all that you could do and be if you could change how you think and respond to fear? Have people imagine/write down what they’d do if they weren’t afraid (1 minute). Isn’t that reason enough to change your mindset?
The good news is that God wants you to change your view and response to fear too!
God doesn't want you to be afraid. God doesn't want you to live as a prisoner of your fears. He wants to set you free.
Today I want to look some more at fear and give you specific things you can do to change your mindset of fear from your enemy to your friend.
Listen to the talk now: