Overcoming The Fear of Man, Image, and Reputation

Anonymous asked:

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.

— J.S.

12 thoughts on “Overcoming The Fear of Man, Image, and Reputation

  1. This is my constant struggle though now I see how God is delivering me of it little by little, and bringing me to a place where people’s opinions of me will not control me as much. As you said, it’s a process…a slow process. For me, a really slow process. Can I emphasize “really” again? haha! Thank you so much for this post and pointing to God’s grace in this process! Blessings in Christ! Oh, and Happy Thanksgiving to ya! 🙂


  2. Reblogged this on One Passion One Devotion and commented:
    one of the questions to The Panel over The Weekender was “how do i get people to like me?” – so i know this is on the heart of people around me… my answer – know what God says about you… You are loved, cherished, called, empowered, paid for….


  3. Fear of man (unfortunately) is something we all struggle with. It’s so important to remember that God’s opinion of us in the end will matter more than any opinions man ever will have of us. When we live our life constantly thinking about what would please Him (instead of men) it’ll make it easier to depend less on approval of man and more on what He wants us to do. Great answer!


  4. I think everyone faces the fear of an to one degree or another. Leaders I think are called to grapple with it almost daily because everyone has an opinion and everyone can do it better
    … until they get in the driver’s seat that is. That knowledge has helped me overcome fear. We are all filled with incompetence and talent and while others may focus on the former, I doggedly keep eyes on the latter.


  5. You hit on something very real. Often times us ministry types idolize ourselves. It sounds very stupid and disturbing but it is easy to get addicted to the praise of people. We excuse it by saying we care about our witness or believers we are discipling but sometimes we try to be The light instead of being a witness sent to testify to that light. Search me oh God and find that wayward way in me.


      1. Amen to that. Imagine what our churches would be like if we only sought God’s approval and cast down the altar of approval set on the high places of our congregations.


  6. Only a narcissist would disagree with this statement: “you’re not the main character in anyone else’s story”. It’s such a liberating revelation! We all need to spend more time thinking of others and thinking of them positively!

    Great post!


    1. Yes! It’s the “Main Character Syndrome.” We’re instead a part of the great tapestry of God’s creation, every part with its mission and story and a piece of the bigger picture.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Fear of others opinions is certainly real, I have learned a few things about it over the years. I have learned that time is a slow but reliable cure, as my 5th decade looms before me, I discovered that caring what others think is tiring. I also remember my father saying “If they are talking about me then they are leaving someone else alone” It took a great many years to get what he was saying. My dad also told me once (at the end of a big long story that doesnt matter anymore) “some people are just assholes” Not quite christian stuff but it was big news for me at the time. My relationship with God closely resembles a plow cutting through deep mud but any progress I have made with this issue as with all others is due to Gods grace, not mine. S


  8. Fear of man can cause us to do things that is not pleasing to God. Fear of God can bring about misjudgment from man even Christians.


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