Summary: This sermon takes a look at how many respond to the fear of failing and how we can overcome that fear.
One of the scariest moments of my life happened during my first few years of ministry here. Denise had just given birth to our first daughter and after about 6 months of maternity leave, Denise went back to work three days a week, which left me to watch our new girl. One Wednesday morning I had to preach at the nursing home and had no baby sitter so I had to take Clarissa with me. At this time I had just purchased a truck that was a standard and to tell you the truth I had never driven a standard previous to me getting the truck and I knew very little about how a standard operates. It was cold in the morning, and I had to scrape some frost of the window that morning, so I placed baby Clarissa next to the passenger door and walked over to the driver side and decided to “warm the car up” while I was scrapping the window. So I just reached inside and stepped on the clutch in just like that the truck started moving forward and I had to leap into to stop it. My first thought was about Clarissa. She had been right next to the truck, was she okay? I ran over to her and sure enough she was sleeping just as before but my heart was beating a million times a minute. It was the most terrifying experience in my life thus far.
Now let me ask you, what terrifies you? Psychiatrist will tell you that we are born with only two fears: the fear of falling and the fear of loud noises. All other fears are learned or acquired and we learn at an early age to be afraid of many things. I heard of one little boy who was terrified of the dark. His mom said “Honey, don’t be afraid. we’re right next door. And remember God is with you in your room.” The boy reluctantly tiptoed back into his room and slowly cracked open the door. He whispered, “God, if You’re in here, don’t you dare move or you’ll scare me to death!”
This morning we are beginning a new series entitled Facing our Fears looking at some of the most common fears we have today. One thing we all have in common is that we all fear on thing or another. One of my favorite cartoon scene’s is in the “Charlie Brown Christmas Special” when Lucy, the so called Psychiatrist is trying to diagnose Charlie Brown’s emotional problems. Assuming that Charlie Brown’s problem is fear, she list several phobias in an effort to determine which one he has. Finally she says, “Charlie Brown, maybe you have pan-a-phobia-the fear of everything.” Charlie Brown blurts our, “That’s it!”
Now many of us don’t have pan-a-phobia, but we do fear something. And sometimes that fear can be so great that it grips our lives in a stranglehold not allowing us to enjoy our fellowship with God or this wonderful life God has given to us. In her book “Tame Your Fears”, Carol Kent explains that God gave us the emotion of fear as a positive motivator. It keeps us alert, gives us adrenaline and gives us a sense of challenge about life. But God does not want us to be afraid in a sense that we allow our fears to cause us to either do the wrong thing or even not to do anything whatsoever. Rather than becoming slaves to fear, we must learnt to “tame” our fears, channeling them correctly by focusing on God’s promise to be with us through those times when we are afraid. Romans 8:15 says, “For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father."
Now we want to start this series out by looking at a fear many of us tend to have whether we recognize it or not…and that’s the fear of Failure. No one here wants to be known as a failure. This summer will be my ten year high school reunion and to ensure nobody thinks that I haven’t been successful I plan on arriving in a stretch limo wearing a long tailed tux. Actually I won’t, I’ll be wearing short tails.
But our society puts such a high emphasis on succeeding that failure is viewed as the end of the world. Bill Walton, an analyst for ESPN, was commenting on the expectation that the media is placing on high school basketball player Lebron James and said that they’ve built the kid up so much that if he doesn’t come into the NBA scoring double double’s each night than he’s doomed to fail. One football coach told his team, “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.” With such an emphasis on success, no wonder we tend to fear failing the way we do.