Along with some of my neighbors, I just finished a 6-week Bible study on Fear. I have felt the desire to study fear as “my world” has changed dramatically over the past year and the world in which we live is full of uncertainty and anxiety. I thought of those I know who currently had some anxieties about finances, jobs, illnesses, marriages, children or the future. I had worked through this study on my own for a few months, so I wanted to share it with others who might also benefit as I had.
From the beginning, this could have been a ministry fail. Who was going to admit they were afraid of anything, especially to a neighbor they didn’t really know? After all, we’re women and we’re Americans and we are supposed to look like we have it all together – even when we are melting on the inside. And, it’s summer. Does anyone study the Bible in the summer anyway? In choosing to invite my neighbors to join in this experience, I wasn’t sure anyone would care or respond at all. I had many concerns, but had prayed about it and knew this could be a great opportunity to love my neighbors as we learned more about one another and God’s Word.
I banked on God and sent out a post on our neighborhood Facebook page. My husband and I, along with a couple of other neighbors, hosted a front yard ice cream sundae party. The study was brought up in our conversations and some women who attended said they were interested.
I bought the books, sent out an email with the details and waited for the women to knock at my front door on a Thursday night. Again – some fear was there. Would anyone actually show up? It’s one thing to say you are interested in something when you are being offered a cold and creamy bowl of ice cream on a hot summer night, but completely another when it comes time to follow through!
This made me think of other fearful circumstances in my years of ministry on a church staff. What about the time I made the decision to end a women’s program that was popular with some women in the church? What about the time I spoke up about a decision that was being made in our church that I strongly disagreed with? What about the times I had to speak the truth in love to someone who was causing disunity and harm in a ministry? Those times, and many others, were difficult and I was not assured of the outcomes.
What fears or uncertainties have you faced or are you currently facing in your ministry?
- Do you feel you are not equipped?
- Are you fearful of what others might think (not everyone will be your best friend!)?
- Are you afraid of the time it might take, the hard work and the commitment to it?
- Are you worried that God won’t really show up?
I promise you, whatever position of influence you have in your church or whatever potential impact you might have in your neighborhood or community – you will never feel 100% ready or equipped to start it, manage it or lead it. Fear will, at some point, creep in and be part of your experience. But, that should not stop you. Think through the following learnings that were gleaned from my study on Fear and move forward in faith!
Know Yourself – What are you fearful of? Name it. What are you trusting in? Do you trust that God has a plan for you? You can choose not to fear!
Know God – The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge and knowledge helps us make good and right choices regarding ministry, relationships, culture and the decisions of life. He is for you!
Know Others – Invite a team of strong women who will confidentially listen to you and pray for your concerns and fears. They will be a bridge of support to you as you cross into unknown territories. Be the same for them!
By the way, eight women showed up at my house eager to study what the Bible has to say about fear. We were all blessed as we learned, shared our own experiences and concerns and prayed for one another!