Summary: Fear of failure is no excuse for inaction.
Text: Mt 25:14-30
I recently came upon this interesting list of words. Let’s see if you know what they mean:
1.Peladophobia: fear of baldness and bald people.
2.Aerophobia: fear of drafts.
3.Porphyrophobia: fear of the color purple.
4.Chaetophobia: fear of hairy people.
5.Levophobia: fear of objects on the left side of the body.
6.Dextrophobia: fear of objects on the right side of the body.
7.Auroraphobia: fear of the northern lights.
8.Thalassophobia: fear of being seated.
9.Calyprophobia: fear of obscure meanings.
10.Stabisbasiphobia: fear of standing and walking.
11.Odontophobia: fear of teeth.
12.Graphophobia: fear of writing in public.
13.Phobophobia: fear of being afraid.
The interesting thing is that they are all things that people are afraid of. These words all refer to conditions that have been diagnosed by psychologists.
In the parable I read earlier, Jesus talked about a man with another fear. When we hear this parable, we don’t usually think about the fear he showed. Yet this man’s life was destroyed by the fear that lived in him.
What was the fear he showed? It was the fear of failure. And this is a fear that is quite common today. A person suffering from this fear may show it in different ways.
The driven person. Fear of failing drives a person to working hard at not failing – to the point of obsession.
The paralysed person. This person is like a kangaroo in your headlights. They are so paralysed by the thought of what is about to happen that they do nothing to prevent it. That is what happened to this person.
What can we learn from his example?
Simple – don’t be paralysed by our fear of failure!
What do you think would have happened if this man had gone out and lost the money in a worthwhile scheme? In other words, if he did as he was asked and he lost the money, what would be his punishment? I don’t think there would have been one. The King may not have given him a huge reward, but he would have been praised for having a go.
Illustration – who do you want on your team – the naturally gifted person who does well without effort, or the hardworking player who only reaches an average level?
Now fear of failure isn’t something that we should give in to. What does the Bible say about fear? God hasn’t given us a spirit of fear, but of love, power and a sound mind. Likewise, he who fears isn’t made perfect in love, because love drives out all fears.
A wise man once said that a life lived in fear is a life half lived. Shohoiya Yokowai spent 28 years of his life in prison. It was not a prison of bars & locks & wardens, but a self-imposed prison of fear. He was a Japanese soldier on the island of Guam during WW2. And when the American forces landed, he fled into the jungle & found a cave in which he hid for 28 years because he was afraid of being captured by the Americans.
He learned that the war was over by reading one of the thousands of pamphlets dropped into the jungle. But he was afraid. So for 28 years he lived in the cave, coming out only at night to look for roaches & rats & frogs & mangoes on which he survived.
Finally some natives found him & convinced him that it would be all right for him to come out of his jungle prison.
We think, "What a waste! Imagine, spending 28 years living as a a prisoner of fear." Yet, there are a lot of people who are prisoners of fear. I hope that we aren’t prisoners to the fear of failure.
The building programme we are about to undertake is frightening. We have big changes to make, and it is going to cost a lot of money. We can choose to be paralysed by the fear, and not go ahead. But it’s time for us to have a go. We have the resources. We could sit on our hands and hope something good comes along. But isn’t it time we just tried something?
And people in this corps are excited about the opportunities! Yesterday I was talking to one of the people here, and I asked if they were excited about the fact that the building was about to start. No, they replied. They hadn’t even thought about it. But they were excited about what we’ll be doing after completion!
And what have we to fear? What is the worst thing that could happen? Perhaps we are afraid that we won’t be able to finish paying for it. My biggest fear is that we will commence new services and programmes, but they won’t go anywhere. At the very least, we’ll be able to say we tried. When we face God to settle accounts, and he asks why we undertook such a project, we will be able to say, at least we did something. We had a go. We tried, and it didn’t come off. And he will reward us for being faithful.
And that’s if we fail!