How do I get over my fear of man? I know what ultimately matters is God’s opinion of me. Man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart. I feel constantly misunderstood, or I make decisions out of fear, not love because I’m afraid of what others might think of me. I don’t give in to surface things like peer pressure, but it’s more of deeper things like what people think of me in ministry and my integrity. Am I idolizing my reputation? How can I care less what people think of me?
I believe this has been one of the most problematic issues my entire life, and I wish I could say I’m over it, but it’s not easy. Dear friend: It’s impossible not to think about what other people think about you. So if you trip over yourself or accidentally fart in public, then you can act as cool as you want, but you’ll be screaming to death inside. And that’s natural. We are relational creatures, and there’s no getting around the need to please people. Allow yourself a bit of breathing room here.
It takes time, patience, practice, and God-empowered grace to overcome this — and it often happens in layers. While I still feel the burning needle of other peoples’ opinions lodged in my heart, I’m also not as controlled by other opinions as I once was. You don’t have to rush the process.
But there is a process. I’ve learned over the years that whenever I feel the attention-seeking, people-pleasing, self-condemning fear, I break down this anxiety into several logical parts. It requires a discipline by the grace of God to really dig in. So here are some things to consider every time you feel the pressure.
1) You can’t make everyone happy. It’s not happening.
2) Not everyone’s opinion of you is the right opinion, so don’t give every opinion the same value.
3) Even if everyone totally loved you, that still won’t satisfy your need to please them.
4) Even if everyone disliked you — what will that actually do to you? Will you spontaneously explode? Will you randomly flip off the stairs? Should you find them and shove your head up their butt until they like you?
Hebrews 13:6 says — So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?”
Our greatest fears are almost always exaggerations of reality. If you take people-pleasing to its logical end, it makes zero sense.
5) No one is thinking of you that much. This is a psychological fallacy called the “spotlight effect” that’s been proven. When your pants fell down while you were singing the church solo, the church talked about it for a few minutes and then went on with the rest of their day.
I’m not trying to be mean here: but you’re not the main character in anyone else’s story. People are mainly worried about themselves, so even your most embarrassing moments are only your moments.
6) Everyone has a vision for your life, and it’s not always a good one.
7) You will gain enemies. People are going to dislike you. It doesn’t matter how clean you keep your reputation: there will be gossip. It bothers me too: but that’s life.
8) You’ll spend a lot of time trying to please others, but only God is truly pleaseable. He’s already accepted you through His Son. Everything else demands from you, but only God says you’re already qualified.
God loves you: so rest in Him. Maybe you’ve heard this a million times, but an old truth doesn’t make it untrue.
Ultimately, there is nothing that people can give you or take away from you that will ever trump the infinite love of God. If you can get even an ounce of that awesome truth through you, then He will uppercut your soul back to confidence. Our insecurities are always microscopic in light of God’s overpowering glory.
I cannot overstate how critical it is to build your very foundation, step by step, into the glorious grounding of God’s preemptive grace. Though you might be shaken by the world, within God’s strength you can never be completely out of orbit.
If you find yourself afraid again, it’s okay — it’s exactly why Jesus came to die for you and rise for you, so that you’d be free of sin, that you’d be brought to Him, that you’d have a Spirit of power in you to do incredible works for His Kingdom. Rest in that, even if it’s only a silent stumbling towards Him today. He will peel back your fears.