FOUR PRINCIPLES FOR OVERCOMING FEAR
Of all the reasons that Christians give for not actively sharing their faith, it seems that the main issue boils down to fear. I believe that fear of man is the number one greatest obstacle that believers face in living an evangelistic lifestyle. However, if fear has kept us from engaging people with the Gospel, we do not need to remain in that place. In fact, we can learn how to engage with and overcome our fears. Here are four principles to consider about overcoming fear.
1.) Realize that Courage is Not the Absence of Fear
This principle has encouraged me so many times over the years as I have endeavored to live an evangelistic lifestyle. This is because fear is such a common experience for me. It always makes me chuckle when people say to me, “You are such a bold person! You go out and share the Gospel with strangers in dangerous places. I wish I had boldness like that.” My usual response is, “Most of the time I am out in public sharing the Gospel, I feel like a frightened little child holding Daddy’s hand for strength.”
I do know people who are active evangelists who really do not seem to battle with fear to the degree that I do. But I have always believed that the Lord has called me to do what I do, to be an example for those in the church who use fear as an excuse to stay silent. I can truly say, “If I can do this, anyone can do this.”
I remember hearing someone reminiscing about their mother when they were a child. And they said that she would often encourage them to do things they were afraid of. She would tell them, “Even though you feel the fear, just do it afraid.” This has always stuck with me when it comes to evangelism. Rather than allowing the fear to prevent me from stepping out, I often have to tell myself, “Just do it afraid, Dustin.” I find that as I step out, the Lord gives me the courage to do what I am afraid to do in the flesh, which leads me to principle 2.
2.) Boldness Comes on the Other Side
Frequently, I feel the boldness of the Holy Spirit come upon me when I am sharing the faith, but it is always AFTER I step out. It seems to me that fear needs to be confronted and walked through in order to find the boldness that we need. On occasion, I will go downtown with a friend and we will just start approaching people on the streets to share Jesus with them. Like clockwork, every single time I set a date to go out, right up to the day before, I find myself thinking about reasons why we shouldn’t do it. Usually it is under the guise of, “I’ve got too many other things to do.” But, if I am honest, it is simply fear.
But I can also testify to the fact that once we go out and get past that fear, boldness comes. Once we walked up on a group of men and they let me share a little of my testimony and pray with them. As we were walking away, one of them said, “Man you are brave, walking up on us like that out here.” But it was not any natural courage on my part, it was the Holy Spirit who gave us the boldness we needed when we chose to step out and do His work.
3.) The Devil Uses Fear to Silence Christians
One of the most helpful principles about fear that I have ever heard came from an evangelist named Robby Dawkins. He suggested that the fear that we feel when we step out to share the Gospel is actually the fear that Satan feels about us sharing our faith. He explained that the devil uses that fear as a weapon against us. As I have considered this over the years, it has been a great help to me. If I know in advance that I will be sharing the Gospel or engaging with people in some way, I usually notice the fear as soon as I entertain the possibility. For example, if we are going out to eat, the thoughts of offering to pray for our server will begin to make me nervous. There are times that I allow the fear to win and I “chicken out” on the encounter.
But often when this happens, I remind myself that the devil is trying to put it on me to keep me from doing what God has called me to do. And this has actually assisted me in pushing through fear in order to keep the devil from winning.
Remember, Paul tells Timothy that believers are not given a “spirit of fear.” (NKJV) Or as it says in the NIV, “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7. So when that fear comes, we can be sure that the source is not from God.
4.) Fear is Not a Dis-qualifier
If you are waiting for the Lord to completely remove all fear of sharing your faith before you step out, you will never be able to enter into this lifestyle. Too many Christians feel that they are unqualified to share their faith because their logic is that if God was calling them, they would not have such a fear. I hope that the little bit that I have shared will be an encouragement to you. I have seen incredible things happen. I have seen people break down in tears whom I have never met and just opened a conversation with. I have been able to pray with people, encourage them, present the Gospel and invite them to receive Christ so many times. I could share so many testimonies of what the Lord has done. However, I have seen all of this happen with a very real sense of fear. The presence of fear does not disqualify you!
Do not let fear keep you from stepping out in faith to share the Gospel with people. As you continue to take risks and talk with people, you will build up experiences in which you will see God move, and this will encourage you to keep stepping out. Because of all that I have seen the Lord do, it has made it easier in a sense to overcome fear. But do not wait for fear to go away. Rather, face the fear head on, knowing that the Holy Spirit inside of you will help you in ways that you could never imagine.
One practical tip on overcoming fear: Find someone in your life who has a passion to share the Gospel and team up with them. I find that when I am with a like-minded believer, we are able to share the load, and as we work together, we are able to press through the fear and encourage one another.
DUSTIN RENZ is the President of Make Way Ministries, a non-profit organization that exists to see the world changed one Christian at a time. He has a passion to see the Body of Christ find rich intimacy in their relationship with Jesus and step out in faith to share the Gospel with the world around them. He is the author of Pile of Masks: Exposing Christian Hypocrisy and Something Better. He resides in Dayton, Ohio with his wife and three daughters.